Attitudes of maternal-fetal specialists concerning maternal-fetal surgery

Anne D. Lyerly*, Robert C. Cefalo, Michael Socol, Linda Fogarty, Jeremy Sugarman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: We examined the attitudes of members of the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine regarding the clinical, scientific, ethical, and policy issues in maternal-fetal surgery. STUDY DESIGN: A 43-question survey was distributed to all members of the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine. Two mailings and one electronic mail reminder were sent, each with instructions to submit the survey either via US mail or the Internet. The survey included questions in six categories: physician demographic data, experience with maternal-fetal surgery, views on innovative therapies, scientific validation of currently used and proposed procedures, ethical issues, and future directions in public policy. RESULTS: Of the 1639 United States members sent questionnaires, 943 replied (response rate = 59%). Forty-seven percent had referred patients for open fetal surgery for nonlethal conditions, and 69% believed physicians were obligated to inform patients of this option. Seventy-eight percent believed that innovative therapies should be performed only under institutional review board-approved protocols. Although the majority of respondents believed that certain proposed benefits of open fetal surgery for myelomeningocele could offset the risks, the majority (56%) also indicated that the procedure has not been validated. Fifty-seven percent believed that a moratorium should be imposed on open fetal surgery for nonlethal conditions, such as myelomeningocele, until a multicenter-controlled clinical trial is completed. CONCLUSIONS: The use of maternal-fetal surgery for nonlethal conditions is highly controversial. The majority of maternal-fetal specialists we surveyed support further research before such procedures are integrated into clinical practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1052-1058
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican journal of obstetrics and gynecology
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2001


  • Ethics
  • Fetal surgery
  • Innovative surgery
  • Maternal-fetal surgery
  • Myelomeningocele

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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