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General Practice 2023

Amniótic bands: what they are, causes and treatment

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Amniótic bands: what they are, causes and treatment
Amniótic bands: what they are, causes and treatment
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Amniotic band syndrome, also known as amniotic band syndrome, is a very rare condition in which pieces of tissue similar to the amniotic sac become wrapped around the arms, legs, or other parts of the fetus' body during gestation, forming a band.

When this happens, blood cannot reach these places correctly and, therefore, the baby can be born with malformations or missing fingers and even without complete limbs, depending on where the amniotic band formed. When it happens on the face, it is very common to be born with a cleft palate or cleft lip, for example.

In most cases, treatment is done after birth with surgeries to correct the malformations through surgery or the use of prostheses, for example, but there are some cases in which the doctor may suggest having surgery on the uterus to remove the band and allow the fetus to develop normally.However, this type of surgery has more risks, especially miscarriage or serious infection.

Major changes in the baby

No two cases of this syndrome are the same, however, the most common changes in the baby include:

  • Fingers glued together;
  • Shorter arms or legs;
  • Nail malformations;
  • Amputation of the hand on one of the arms;
  • Arm or leg amputated;
  • Cleft palate or cleft lip;
  • Congenital clubfoot.

Furthermore, there are also many cases in which a miscarriage can occur, especially when the band, or amniotic band, forms around the umbilical cord, preventing the passage of blood to the entire fetus.

What causes the syndrome

The specific causes that lead to the emergence of amniotic band syndrome are not yet known, however, it is possible that it arises when the inner membrane of the amniotic sac bursts without destroying the outer membrane.In this way, the fetus is able to continue developing, but is surrounded by small pieces of the inner membrane, which can wrap around its limbs.

This situation cannot be predicted, nor are there any factors that contribute to its emergence and, therefore, nothing can be done to reduce the risk of the syndrome. However, it is a very rare syndrome and, even if it happens, it does not mean that the woman will have a pregnancy of the same type again.

How to confirm the diagnosis

Amniotic band syndrome is usually diagnosed during the first trimester of pregnancy, through one of the ultrasound exams performed during prenatal consultations.

How the treatment is done

In almost all cases, the treatment is performed after the baby is born and serves to correct the alterations caused by the amniotic bands. Therefore, several techniques can be used, according to the problem to be treated and the associated risks:

  • Surgery to correct stuck fingers and other malformations;
  • Use of prostheses to correct missing fingers or parts of the arm and leg;
  • Plastic surgery to correct facial changes such as cleft lip;

Since it is very common for a baby to be born with congenital clubfoot, the pediatrician may also advise doing the Ponseti technique, which consists of placing a cast on the baby's foot every week for 5 months and then use orthopedic botos up to 4 years of age, correcting the change in the feet, without the need for surgery. Learn more about how this issue is handled.

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