Interventional Procedures

Why Is Fetal Blood Transfusion Performed?

Severe anemia may occur in fetuses with certain diseases due to various causes (blood group incompatibility, infections, etc.). These can be diagnosed by measuring the blood flow velocity in the middle cerebral artery by Doppler ultrasound or, in suspected cases, by cordocentesis. If treatment is not initiated in these cases, the fetus may develop heart failure due to severe anemia and fluid accumulation in the body cavities (hydrops fetalis), followed by fetal loss. To prevent this, it is necessary to give blood to the fetus.

How Is Fetal Blood Transfusion Performed?

After the needle insertion site is cleaned under sterile conditions and ultrasound monitoring, the needle is inserted into the umbilical cord through the abdominal wall and uterus of the expectant mother, and 1-2 ml of baby blood is collected and the blood level (hemoglobin) is measured immediately. Depending on the result, the amount of blood required for the fetus is administered. At the same time, the fetus is monitored by ultrasound. A second access is rarely required. Depending on the week of pregnancy and the degree of fetal involvement, this procedure may need to be repeated at 2-3 week intervals.

What can happen after Fetal Blood Transfusion?

This procedure carries the risk of preterm labor and pregnancy loss, but it should be remembered that fetal loss may be inevitable if blood is not given. Fetal loss can be caused by interruption of blood flow through the umbilical cord, slowing of the baby’s heart rate (bradycardia), and bleeding from the umbilical cord. If bradycardia develops, the fetus may need to be delivered by cesarean section. Other possible complications include water coming and infection.

In fetuses treated with blood transfusions, the average success rate is 90%. However, this rate is lower in fetuses with hydrops, and severe growth retardation, cerebral palsy, and deafness have been reported.


Prof. Dr. Ali Gedikbaşı
Contact Information

+90 545 213 5140 - Appointment

Fulya Terrace Center 1
Kat 8 Daire 31,
Hakkı Yeten Caddesi No 11,
Fulya-Şişli, İstanbul

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