Fetal surgery is no longer limited to a few techniques. With advances in knowledge and improvements in equipment, new opportunities for the treatment of more birth defects will emerge. The unexpected discovery that fetuses heal without scarring suggests that cleft palate and other facial defects might be conducive to repair in the womb. Further research is needed, however, before surgery can be justified for conditions that are not life-threatening.
Advances in fetal surgery are expected to benefit other fields of medicine as well. New strategies to prevent early labor in fetal-surgery patients, for instance, can be applied to any pregnant woman who is at risk for early labor. In a similar fashion, new tools developed for fetal surgery may find other uses in medicine. Further understanding of scarless healing may also lead to innovations in the treatment of adult surgical patients.
See also Embryo and embryonic development.
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