23 July 2016, Abu Dhabi – UAE: Physicians at Danat Al Emarat Women & Children’s Hospital in Abu Dhabi, part of United Eastern Medical Services (UEMedical), were able to successfully manage a newborn after the detection of his medical condition during the seventh month of pregnancy, where he suffered from obstruction in his large intestine. Early detection helped develop an early treatment plan by a multidisciplinary team of Fetal Medicine Specialists, Obstetricians, Neonatologists and Pediatric Surgeons to manage the condition as soon as the baby was born, through performing a surgery to repair the blocked portion of the large intestine.
The condition was diagnosed in the Fetal Medicine Unit at Danat Al Emarat Hospital for Women & Children, a dedicated unit run by a team of specialized doctors trained and accredited in Fetal Medicine. The Unit provides tertiary level ultrasound assessment and diagnosis of pregnancy complications, and provides on-going pregnancy management by a multidisciplinary team of doctors. Early diagnosis helps develop early treatment plans prior to the baby’s birth, and surgical intervention in specialized global centers may sometimes be required to save the fetus whilst still in the womb.
Dr. Gowri Ramanathan, Head of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Director of Fetal Medicine Unit at Danat Al Emarat Women & Children Hospital, said that all pregnant women being seen at the hospital undergo certain screening tests in the Fetal Medicine Unit in order to detect certain conditions that may put the health and wellbeing of the developing baby at risk. Early diagnosis is important to provide the best possible outcome. She explained that with highly trained physicians together with high-end ultrasound machines that are available in the Fetal Medicine Unit, which includes 3D and 4D ultrasound, highly accurate diagnosis of the developing baby is possible. She explained that 2D ultrasound is primarily used in assessing the baby, whilst 3D and 4D ultrasound are used to look at the external appearance of the baby, which is useful in showing the parents certain conditions such as cleft lip.
“At the Unit, focus is on detecting possible chromosomal disorders, genetic disorders, as well as congenital or structural birth defects that may affect the developing baby. A combination of ultrasound assessment, risk calculation tools, and blood tests are used in this screening process. We also offer more invasive diagnostic testing that analyses the chromosomes and genes of the developing baby,” she added. “In addition, women carrying high-risk pregnancies have their unborn babies very closely monitored. Conditions that may affect the mother can have an effect on the developing baby as well, such as diabetes high blood pressure, and thyroid disorders, to name a few. The function of the placenta is assessed closely, as failure of the placenta can result in the baby not receiving enough nutrition and oxygen which may put the baby’s life at risk.”
Dr. Gowri also noted, “At the Fetal Medicine Unit, screening for the possibility of preterm birth can also be performed by measuring the length of the cervix or neck of the womb. This helps determine whether the newborn may be at risk of being born prematurely and hence may need admission to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). We work very closely with our advanced neonatology and pediatric department at the hospital to ensure the best treatment plan is determined before delivery. Our NICU includes 15 units which are equipped according to the highest standards, and managed by our specialized physicians in pediatrics, pediatric surgery and neonatology.”
“We also work closely with our Pediatric Cardiology specialist. A number of abnormalities could be detected in the heart of the unborn baby, thus, an early treatment plan will need to be put in place by our Neonatology and Pediatric Cardiology Consultants,” she added.
She revealed that around 15-20 abnormalities in the fetus or placenta are being diagnosed every week, stating that over 400 pregnant women are being monitored at the hospital’s Fetal Medicine Unit weekly. All women booked to have their babies at Danat Al Emarat Hospital are screened within the Unit, and a significant percentage of referrals are being received from other medical centers and hospitals both from within Abu Dhabi, as well as from other Emirates.
Dr. Gowri added, “One of the cases we diagnosed at the Fetal Medicine Unit was a case of conjoined twins diagnosed at 9 weeks of pregnancy. We monitored the babies throughout the whole pregnancy at the Unit, and liaised with a specialized center in the US to plan the delivery there. We shared regular reports and ultrasound images prior to the delivery, which helped plan the surgical treatment of the babies soon after birth to separate them. The surgery was extremely successful the two babies are in good health and back in Abu Dhabi.”
“Among the cases discovered also at the Fetal Medicine Unit at Danat Al Emarat Hospital were babies suffering from congenital spinal deformities, who were treated after birth at specialized centers.” She then concluded, “Conditions where fetuses suffer from hernias in the diaphragm detected by fetal medicine specialists could be treated before 28 weeks of pregnancy using minimally invasive surgery, where a balloon is inserted in the trachea of the developing baby to help widen its lungs before birth, and these operations are done at specialized medical centers.”