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Fetal surgery on medical agenda

Update: October, 10/2015 - 09:05
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HCM CITY (VNS) — Though Vietnamese surgeons have the capability of performing fetal surgery, the procedure has yet to be carried out because of the risks involved, an expert said at a Paediatric Surgery Conference held in HCM City yesterday.

Professor Tran Dong A told Viet Nam News on the sidelines of the conference said the surgery was not difficult, but that families needed to be informed about the possibility of early labour and miscarriage. In the US and Europe, there are only a few centres that perform fetal surgery.

Dong A said that Viet Nam should wait for further medical advances in fetal surgery before performing the procedure.

In Viet Nam, the number of children with congenital defects is 10 times higher than in developed countries. It is mostly caused by the living environment in the country, according to the professor.

Speaking at the conference yesterday, Dr Pham Viet Thanh, former head of the city Department of Health, said that many defects had been treated at health centres throughout the country.

Prenatal and postnatal diagnoses to discover fetal defects began in Viet Nam about 10 years ago. Specialists in obstetrics and paediatrics work together in teams, he said.

If the defects cannot be treated, doctors advise ending the pregnancy, he said.

One of the major goals of the country's health sector is to develop and offer fetal surgery, Thanh said. At the conference, Thanh spoke with doctors from Belgium about the feasibility of offering the fetal surgery in Viet Nam.

Dr Jean-Marc Biard of Saint Luc University Hospital in Brussels said that it was necessary, and that such surgeries could help prevent a number of problems, such as severe fetal pulmonary hypoplasia, in which the lungs are abnormally small and do not have enough tissue and blood flow.

He emphasised that surgeons must be carefully trained in the procedure.

Another Belgian doctor who spoke at the conference, H Steyaert, said that many surgeons in different fields such as obstetrics, paediatrics, and neurology should work in teams.

Besides training, investment in the equipment for the surgery is high, he said, adding that ethical issues concerning the procedure should also be taken into account. — VNS

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