Hydrops fetalis is a morbid condition caused by a wide variety of fetal, placental, and maternal diseases. Mortality is high and depends on the gestational age at the time of occurrence and underlying etiology. Although the condition was described more than 300 years ago, recent advances in obstetric ultrasound, prenatal diagnostics have made it possible to differentiate various etiologies involved. It is also possible to treat some of these fetuses prenatally. In utero medical and surgical therapy is presently done in some centers. However, the majority of cases diagnosed remain untreatable. Early diagnosis of untreatable cases allows parents to make informed choices about subsequent management. Recent advances are covered in this review.
Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Reprint requests to: Iraj Forouzan, MD, Hospital of University of Pennsylvania, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 3400 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104.
Authors whose names are accompanied by an asterisk (*) have indicated, in accordance with the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) Standards, that they have a relationship which could be perceived by some people as a real or apparent conflict of interest, but do not feel it has influenced their participation.