Fetal surgery on medical agenda hinh anh 1Illustrative photo. (Source:giadinh.net)

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 Ho Chi Minh City on October 9.

Professor Tran Dong A told reporters on the sidelines of the conference said the surgery is not difficult, but families need 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.

He said that Vietnam should wait for further medical advances in fetal surgery before performing the procedure.

In Vietnam, 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, Dr Pham Viet Thanh, former head of the city’s Department of Health, said that many defects have been treated at health centres throughout the country.

Prenatal and postnatal diagnoses to discover fetal defects began in Vietnam about 10 years ago, he said, adding that specialists in obstetrics and paediatrics work together in teams.

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 Vietnam .

Dr. Jean-Marc Biard of Saint Luc University Hospital in Brussels said that it is necessary as 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.-VNA