A Technical Look at Fetoscopic Laser Ablation for Fetal Laryngeal Surgical Recanalization in Congenital High Airway Obstruction Syndrome

Jose L. Peiro, Heather R. Nolan, Amir Alhajjat, Ramiro Diaz, Enrique Gil-Guevara, Sammy M. Tabbah, Foong Y. Lim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Background: Congenital high airway obstruction syndrome (CHAOS) is a rare condition characterized by complete obstruction of the upper fetal airways. Left untreated, it is uniformly fatal. Ex utero intrapartum treatment (EXIT) has been used to establish a surgical airway in affected fetuses during delivery. While this procedure benefits those fetuses that survive to delivery, high mortality in the prenatal period necessitates earlier innovative strategies. Herein, we report a novel technique for in utero intervention. Methods: A fetoscopic intervention was performed at 28 weeks on a 35-year-old G1P0 woman with fetal CHAOS from a laryngeal obstruction measuring 11 mm in length on prenatal imaging. Under ultrasound guidance, a 3.3-mm curved fetoscope was used to access the uterine cavity through a single subcentimeter maternal skin incision. The scope was driven through the fetal oral cavity and manipulated to attain a view of the vocal cords. A subglottic obstruction was observed. A 600-micron laser fiber was passed through the working channel of the scope and used to ablate the obstructed airway. Using the laser fiber and a guidewire, the ablated opening was traversed with the fetoscope to the level of the carina. Results: Postoperatively, the lungs became less hyperinflated. There was improvement in ascites and diaphragmatic eversion. At 31 1/7 weeks' gestation, the mother experienced preterm premature rupture of membranes with active labor and the fetus was delivered through EXIT to tracheostomy. The infant was managed on mechanical ventilation and is currently thriving at home with a tracheostomy at 2 years of age. Conclusion: Fetoscopy with laser ablation of the airway obstruction is an effective prenatal management strategy that offers the potential to alter the devastating natural course of CHAOS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)695-700
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Laparoendoscopic and Advanced Surgical Techniques
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • fetoscopy
  • in utero intervention
  • laser ablation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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