Endoscopic fetal surgery, fetal endoscopy.

To facilitate diagnosis and treatment of the fetus, evaluate for disorders such as neural tube defects and congenital defects, and assist with fetal karyotyping.

Patient Preparation
Instruct the patient to withhold food and fluid for 8 hr prior to the endoscopic procedure. There are no activity or medication restrictions unless by medical direction.

Normal Findings

  • Absence of birth defects or findings that suggest presence of a birth defect

Critical Findings and Potential Interventions


(Study type: Endoscopy; related body system: Reproductive system.)

Fetoscopy is usually performed around the 18th week of pregnancy or later when the fetus is developed sufficiently for diagnosis of potential problems. It is done to evaluate or treat the fetus during pregnancy. Fetoscopy can be accomplished externally using a stethoscope with an attached headpiece, which is placed on the mother’s abdomen to assess the fetal heart tones. Endoscopic fetoscopy is accomplished using an instrument called a fetoscope, a thin, 1-mm flexible scope, which is placed with the aid of sonography. The fetoscope is inserted into the uterus through a thin incision in the abdominal wall (transabdominally) or through the cervix (transcervically) in earlier stages of pregnancy. Fetal tissue and blood samples can be obtained through the fetoscope. In addition, fetal surgery can be performed for such procedures as the repair of a fetal congenital diaphragmatic hernia, enlarged bladder, and spina bifida.


  • Assess the fetus for birth defects during pregnancy; areas examined include the amniotic fluid, umbilical cord, and fetal side of the placenta.

Interfering Factors

Factors that may alter the results of the study

  • Activity of fetus.
  • Amniotic fluid that is extremely cloudy.

Potential Medical Diagnosis: Clinical Significance of Results

Abnormal Findings In:

  • Acardiac twin
  • Congenital diaphragmatic hernia
  • Neural tube defects
  • Spinal bifida

Nursing Implications, Nursing Process, Clinical Judgement

Before the Study: Planning and Implementation

Teaching the Patient What to Expect

  • Discuss how this procedure can assist in locating and treating fetal abnormalities.
  • Explain that the procedure takes approximately 60 min and is performed in an ultrasound department.
  • Review the procedure with the patient.

Procedural Information

  • Baseline vital signs are recorded and monitored throughout the procedure.
  • A local anesthetic is applied to the abdomen to ease with insertion of the fetoscope.
  • Positioning for this procedure is in the supine position.

Endoscopic Procedure

  • The lower abdomen area is cleaned, and a local anesthetic is administered in the area where the incision will be made.
  • Conductive gel is applied to the skin, and a Doppler transducer is moved over the skin to locate the position of the fetus.
  • The patient is advised to breathe normally during the examination.
  • If necessary for better fetal visualization, the patient is asked to inhale deeply and hold her breath.
  • Samples from aspirated amniotic fluid or fetal material are placed in the appropriate container(s) and labeled immediately after collection with the corresponding patient demographics: initials of the person collecting the specimen, date, and time of collection.
  • When the study is completed, the gel is removed from the skin.

Potential Nursing Actions
Make sure a written and informed consent has been signed prior to the procedure and before administering any medications.

After the Study: Implementation & Evaluation Potential Nursing Actions

Avoiding Complications

  • Monitor the patient for complications related to the procedure.
  • Discuss the care of the incision and to contact her HCP immediately if she is experiencing chills, fever, dizziness, moderate or severe abdominal cramping, or fluid or blood loss from the vagina or incision.

Treatment Considerations

  • Follow post-procedure vital sign and assessment protocol.
  • Observe/assess the incision for redness or leakage of fluid or blood following the endoscopic procedure.

Clinical Judgement

  • Consider how to decrease the anxiety related to the fear of fetal abnormality.

Followup Evaluation and Desired Outcomes

  • Understands that a follow-up ultrasound will be completed the next day to assess the fetus and placenta.
  • Agrees to genetic counseling and screening as related to medical condition.