Medical Breakthrough: Preventing Deformities

Wednesday, August 25th 1999, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Imagine having a tight band wrapped around your foot or hand for months. That's
what it's like for a fetus suffering from a rare condition called amniotic band syndrome. Now, a revolutionary new procedure can reverse the condition before birth.

Twenty-two-month-old Joshua Rosenberg has been through more medical treatments than most people face in a lifetime. His medical problems began before he was born. First, Rosenberg's parents were told he would have a facial disfigurement. Then, they learned something inside the womb was strangling his left arm. "They said that his arm would probably be amputated by the end of the third trimester," says the boy's mother, Arlene Rosenberg. He had amniotic band syndrome, a rare condition that, until now, could only be treated after birth. Ruben Quintero, M.D., a perinatologist explains, "The band is a segment of fibrous material -- nobody knows where it comes from -- that wraps around areas of the baby."

Dr. Quintero had an idea. He would operate on the limb while it was still in the womb. He made two tiny incisions in Mrs. Rosenberg's abdomen. Then, using ultrasound images and a tiny camera, he found the band and cut it. The doctor says, "By snipping the band, we are releasing the constriction. We're allowing the limb to get normal blood flow to it and rescue the limb."

Josh's scars have faded. He has some nerve damage and might need additional surgery, but he has a hand he may not have had, and he's not letting anything stop him. Amniotic band syndrome affects about one in every three to 5,000 pregnancies. Dr. Quintero says his minimally invasive procedure is the first and only in utero treatment for the disease.

If you would like more information, please contact:

Florida Institute for Fetal Diagnosis and Therapy
13601 Bruce B. Downs, Blvd., Suite 160
Tampa, Florida 33613
(813) 872-2951
e-mail: or