Placental gas exchange during amniotic carbon dioxide insufflation in sheep

BJ Amberg, Philip Dekoninck, AJ Kashyap, SM Skinner, KA Rodgers, EV McGillick, JA Deprest, SB Hooper, KJ Crossley, RJ Hodges

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Objective: Insufflation of the amniotic cavity with carbon dioxide (CO2) is used clinically to improve visibility during complex fetoscopic surgery. Insufflation with heated, humidified CO2 has recently been shown to reduce fetal hypercapnia and acidosis in sheep, compared with use of cold and dry CO2, but the underlying mechanisms are unclear. The aim of this study was to investigate whether differences in placental CO2 and oxygen (O2) exchange during insufflation with heated and humidified vs cold and dry CO2 could explain these findings. Methods: Thirteen fetal lambs at 105 days of gestation (term, 146 days) were exteriorized partially, via a midline laparotomy and hysterotomy, and instrumented with an umbilical artery catheter, an umbilical vein catheter and a common umbilical vein flow probe. Arterial and venous catheters and flow probes were also inserted into the maternal uterine circulation. Six ewes were insufflated with cold, dry CO2 (22°C; 0–5% humidity) and seven with heated, humidified CO2 (40°C; 95–100% humidity) at 15 mmHg for 180 min. Blood-flow recordings and paired arterial and venous blood gases were sampled from uterine and umbilical vessels. Rates of placental CO2 and O2 exchange were calculated. Results: After 180 min of insufflation, fetal survival was 33% (2/6) using cold, dry CO2 and 71% (5/7) using heated, humidified CO2. By 120 min, fetuses insufflated with heated, humidified CO2 had lower arterial CO2 levels and higher arterial pH compared to those insufflated with cold, dry gas. Insufflation decreased significantly placental gas exchange in both groups, as measured by rates of both (i) fetal CO2 clearance and O2 uptake and (ii) maternal O2 delivery and CO2 uptake from the fetal compartment. Conclusions: Lower arterial CO2 and higher pH levels in fetuses insufflated with heated and humidified, compared to cold and dry, CO2 could not be explained by differences in placental gas exchange. Instead, heated and humidified insufflation appeared to reduce fetal CO2 absorption from the uterus, supporting its use in preference to cold, dry CO2.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)305-313
Number of pages9
JournalUltrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021

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  • EMC OR-01


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