The Kypros Nicolaides Fetal Medicine and Therapy Center at Burjeel Medical City Image Credit: Supplied

When a routine scan during her 20th week of pregnancy revealed that her baby was unwell, a 35-year old UAE resident decided to consult a fetal medicine specialist at The Kypros Nicolaides Fetal Medicine & Therapy Center in Abu Dhabi. At the centre, doctors detected extensive fluid accumulation in the baby’s abdomen and around the heart and under the baby’s skin. The findings were suggestive of fetal hydrops, a life-threatening condition which, if untreated, had a mortality rate of more than 90 per cent. Further ultrasound studies also suggested that the baby had very low hemoglobin. The patient underwent a fetal blood transfusion, done through the umbilical cord. At 20 weeks of gestation, this procedure was an extremely challenging but life-saving intervention.

Women with high-risk pregnancies like her stand to benefit from fetal medicine, a specialty that assesses fetal growth and well-being to diagnose any abnormalities or complications and provide the right treatment.

Launched in March, 2022, The Kypros Nicolaides Fetal Medicine and Therapy Center is at the forefront of understanding, diagnosing, and treating prenatally diagnosed defects. Established in association with the world-renowned fetal medicine expert Prof. Kyrpos Nicolaides, famously known as the ‘Father of Fetal Medicine’, the center is a part of the Fetal Medicine Department at Burjeel Medical City (BMC), located in Mohammed Bin Zayed City. The center has the potential to transform the practice of fetal medicine in the UAE and beyond. Its internationally recognised experts provide an unmatched level of care in diagnosing and treating conditions before the baby is born.

World-class experts

The Kypros Nicolaides Fetal Medicine and Therapy Center is led by a team of fetal medicine experts who are constantly working to refine and advance the practice. It is headed by Dr Mandeep Singh, Consultant Fetal Medicine and Obstetrics at BMC and CEO of Burjeel Farha (women and children division of Burjeel). Dr Singh has directly worked with Prof. Nicolaides for the past 18 years. He is an expert in diagnostic and therapeutic invasive procedures such as fetoscopic laser separation of placenta, fetoscopic endotracheal occlusion, and fetal blood transfusion.

The team also comprises Dr Louay Zayed, Head of Fetal and Maternal Medicine, at BMC, who has a special interest in invasive fetal procedures, fetal echocardiography, 3D/4D ultrasound, and prenatal diagnosis of fetal malformations. At the center, a multidisciplinary team of physicians and nurses work together to offer high-risk maternity and delivery care seamlessly. The first goal is to accurately diagnose birth defects using state-of-the-art equipment for 3D and 4D ultrasound, MRI, and fetal echocardiography.

Services on offer

The center offers specialised care to patients undergoing high-risk pregnancies in the UAE throughout the pregnancy, labour, delivery, and postpartum period.

To facilitate the best outcomes for both the mother and the baby, it provides a wide range of services utilising the latest technological advances in diagnostics and intervention. The center offers diagnostic services including dating scan at 11-14th week, screening for chromosomal disorders, anomaly scan, growth and doppler scan, cervical length scan, uterine artery doppler scan, and screening for fetal malformations. The expert team uses advanced fetal intervention techniques from invasive procedures like Chorionic Villus sampling and amniocentesis to fetal therapies like fetal blood transfusion, laser separation of the placenta, endotracheal balloon occlusion of the trachea, spina bifida repair in utero, and fetal echocardiography.

The center also focuses on the mother’s needs by managing conditions like high-risk pregnancy, preterm labour, preeclampsia, multiple pregnancies, previous poor outcome, previous stillbirths, and medical disorders in pregnancy as well as management of miscarriage and management of termination of pregnancy. The physicians at the center follow evidence-based treatment plans from pre-pregnancy through birth and beyond.

Beating the odds

The Kypros Nicolaides Fetal Medicine and Therapy Center uses a collaborative approach through multidisciplinary team meetings to plan for complex problems while focusing on the family’s needs. For instance, after screening for common chromosomal abnormalities, if a baby is confirmed to have been affected by such a condition, the first step is to provide appropriate information and counselling regarding the different invasive procedures available.

If a fetal growth disorder is suspected or diagnosed early in pregnancy, such mothers are referred to the fetal medicine unit for confirmation of diagnosis and further management. Similarly, multiple pregnancies, especially with a single placenta, are at risk for complications like twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome, which can be managed by fetal medicine.

“In the near future, we plan to introduce and perform in-utero spina bifida repair with the help of an experienced team from Fetal Medicine Research Institute, London. This endoscopic repair is performed at 27 weeks gestation and helps seal the defect in the spine, thereby reducing exposure of spinal cord to damage by amniotic fluid. Recent evidence has shown that in-utero repair of spina bifida reduces motor function loss of limbs and improves outcome,” said Dr Singh.

Some other common fetal malformations that are referred to the center include ventriculomegaly, hyperechogenic bowel, suspected cardiac abnormalities, talipes or ankle joint abnormalities, cleft lip and palate, spine abnormalities, increased nuchal translucency, and lung malformations.

At Kypros Nicolaides Fetal Medicine and Therapy Center, we offer a comprehensive continuum of care for high-risk pregnancies by determining the correct treatment plan for each individual patient. Through our close collaboration with the Fetal Medicine Research Institute, London, we are able to offer some of the most innovative fetal therapies available today and care for the mother and baby at every stage.

- Dr Mandeep Singh, Consultant Fetal Medicine and Obstetrics and CEO, Burjeel Farha

Fetal growth disorders are the most common cause of stillbirths in the world. At the center, we aim to become the leaders in maternal-fetal medicine in the region.

- Dr Louay Zayed, Head of Fetal and Maternal Medicine, Burjeel Medical City

To book an appointment,

visit https://burjeel.com/fetalmedicinecenteruae/ or call 80023