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What is Intrauterine Blood Transfusion?

December 3, 2020

Intrauterine blood transfusion is a process in which the red blood cells from a donor are injected into the fetus. It is given when the red blood cells of the fetus are destroyed by Rh-sensitized mother’s immune system and as a result, the fetus develops anaemia (low red blood cell count).

Causes of fetal anaemia:

Fetal anaemia may be caused by the following factors:

  • Rh incompatibility: this is when the mother and fetus have different blood types and the antibodies in the mother’s blood destroy red blood cells in the fetus.
  • Viral infections like Parvovirus B19 infection in the mother.
  • Twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome.

Any of these causes can lead to the development of fetal anaemia which may further lead to heart failure of the fetus. To prevent such complications and to help fetal development, intrauterine blood transfusion is done.

Types:

There are two types of intrauterine blood transfusion:

  • Intravascular Transfusion (IVT): in this process, the needle is passed through the mother’s belly into the baby’s umbilical cord.
  • Intraperitoneal transfusion (IPT): in this method of transfusion, the needle is passed from the mother’s belly into the belly of the fetus. This method is rare and is done only when IVT is not possible.

Procedure:

Intrauterine blood transfusion is usually done on an outpatient basis as the procedure takes about an hour or two. For the process of transfusion, the mother is given antibiotics, local anaesthesia, and intravenous (IV) sedation. This also sedates the baby beside the mother and if required, additional medication may be given to the fetus to restrict any movement as it may cause damage to the fetus during the procedure. The doctor will use an ultrasound to monitor the position of the fetus and to guide the needle through the process.

The needle will be inserted into your belly and will be passed through the uterus into the umbilical cord (in case of IVT) or the fetal belly (in case of IPT). Through the needle, the donor blood is then passed on to the fetus. Finally, a sample of the fetal blood is taken to determine if the transfusion was sufficient or if any more transfusion is required. Intrauterine blood transfusion is usually repeated every few weeks until the fetus is ready for birth.

Risks:

Intrauterine blood transfusion is a very safe procedure and does not cause any complications in most cases. However, just like most other medical procedures, there are some risks associated with it like:

  • Need for emergency cesarean section because of fetal distress following the procedure
  • Premature labour
  • Abdominal bruising
  • Cramping and vaginal bleeding
  • Fetal injury
  • Infection
  • Fetal bleeding

At Cloudnine, we provide you with the best of maternity care facilities. Our experts and specialists are well-experienced in performing procedures like intrauterine blood transfusion with the highest precision. We provide you with world-class facilities and amenities to make your journey of pregnancy as enjoyable and as cherishable as it can be.

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