Shunts

When fluid collects inside the fetal thorax, it is referred to as pleural effusion or hydrothorax. This fluid collection may increase in quantity within the fetal chest causing pressure effect on the heart and the main blood vessels leading to heart failure and ultimately fetal death. In such situations, insertion of a shunt tube that drains the fluid from within the chest to the outside of the fetus (i.e., into the amniotic sac) relieves the pressure and protects the baby from dying due to heart failure. Fetuses presenting with pleural effusion undergo detailed evaluation to ascertain the cause of effusion and the parents are counselled at length over the pros and cons of different treatment options. Fetal Shunt insertion is also done on an outpatient basis. Typically, the duration of the procedure is about 1 hour, followed by another hour of observation.