What Is An Omphalocele? What Are The Causes And How Is An Omphalocele Diagnosed And Treated During Pregnancy?


What Is An Omphalocele?

An omphalocele is a congenital anomaly in which the organs of the abdomen stick out through an opening in the muscles in the space of the umbilical cord. These organs are closed by a transparent membrane which is called the peritoneum.

The omphalocele may be little, with only a portion of the intestine holding out of the abdominal cavity, or large with a most maximum of the abdominal organs that include the intestine, liver, and spleen outside. More than two-thirds of babies with omphalocele have anomalies of other organs or body parts most usually the spine, digestive system, heart, urinary system, and limbs.

Babies born with an omphalocele often have other complications that include the :

  • Poor lung development
  • Intestine that delayed to handle food
  • Heart malformations
  • Chromosomal abnormalities

What Causes An omphalocele?

It is not understood what causes an omphalocele or whether that mother can do anything throughout pregnancy to prevent it. Between the 6th and the 10th weeks of pregnancy, the intestine usually protrudes into the umbilical cord as they are growing. By the 11th week of growth, the intestines should return to the abdomen. When this fails to occur, an omphalocele occurs.

How Is An Omphalocele Diagnosed During Pregnancy?

An omphalocele is typically diagnosed while a routine ultrasound as early as week 12. When you are referred to the institute then your specialist will perform an in-depth evaluation to decide the size and severity of your baby’s omphalocele and screen for the possibility of any other birth defects. This evaluation may include:

  • Detailed ultrasound: provides a visual evaluation of your developing baby’s abnormality, your womb, and blood flow.
  • Fetal MRI: used in addition to an ultrasound to collect more focused images of your growing baby.
  • Fetal echocardiogram: an ultrasound that evaluates the function of your baby’s heart.
  • Karyotype: a chromosome analysis to ascertain a possible genetic cause
  • Blood screenings

This complete evaluation will help doctors determine the most suitable treatment for your baby. Throughout the pregnancy, your nurse will provide for you to meet with a team of specialists who will control the health of you and your baby and plan the most protected birthing and treatment plan. This team will include physicians, such as maternal-fetal medicine specialists, neonatologists, and pediatric surgeons, accompanied by a genetic counselor, social worker, and sonographer. You will also learn more about our neonatal intensive care unit, where your baby will be cared for after delivery, and surgical restoration of the omphalocele.

How Is An Omphalocele Treated?

Treatment for an omphalocele will depend on many things that include:

  • The extent of the condition
  • The baby’s age and overall health
  • The ability of the baby to tolerate medications
  • The parents wish for the treatment of the child.

In the case of a small omphalocele, an operation will be performed shortly after delivery to return the organs to the abdomen and to close up the hole in the abdominal wall to prevent infection or any tissue damage.

For a large omphalocele that involves several organs, the surgery is usually done in stages moving the organs back into the baby’s body over a duration of several days. The surgery is performed in stages because the baby’s abdomen is too little and underdeveloped to hold all of the organs are preserved by a sterile, protective sheeting to prevent the risk of infection.

Babies with omphalocele who have undeveloped abdominal cavities often have breathing difficulties and may require the help of a ventilator until they can breathe on their own.

Surgical repair of the omphalocele takes place after delivery. The overall health of your baby, particularly their respiratory status, the size of the omphalocele, and the degree of liver involvement, detect the type of omphalocele treatment. Omphalocele replacement is typically done at your baby beside in the N/IICU. Babies with small omphalocele are observed closely until they are ready to undergo primary replacement which means that the herniated organs are put back into the abdominal cavity and the hole is completely closed in one operation.

In some cases of babies with the giant omphalocele, the number of organs projecting may be so large that there is not sufficient room in your baby’s body to fit them all inside, preventing omphalocele closure. The sac wrapping the omphalocele is painted with antibiotic cream and covered with elastic gauze.