Pioneered at UPMC, a new technique using microcoil embolization shows early promise in treating inoperable placental tumors\nSometimes a non-cancerous tumor can still be deadly \u2014 especially when it\u2019s a chorangioma, a tumor that grows on the fetal side of the placenta and threatens the health of both the fetus and the mother. UPMC\u2019s innovative application of a proven technique for shrinking tumors now offers hope for treating this rare, but serious, condition.\nThe new technique uses microcoil embolization to block the supply of blood to the chorangioma by strategically placing a tiny metal coil in the feeding artery to create a clot.\nProven to Shrink Tumors Elsewhere\nEmbolization is a minimally-invasive procedure used to stabilize aneurisms and stop hemorrhages in veins and arteries by inducing a blood clot to block flow. It is widely used to shrink tumors in the brain, liver, and other parts of the body. Stephen Emery, MD, director of the Center for Innovative Fetal Intervention at UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital, was inspired to apply the technique in a new way when he was presented with an inoperable chorangioma that was endangering the health of a mother and her unborn son. \u201cI thought, what would you do to a tumor in any other body compartment that\u2019s basically inoperable? You would embolize it. That\u2019s standard treatment.\u201d\nThough embolization had never been performed on a giant chorangioma, Dr. Emery reasoned that it could be used to shut off blood flow to the tumor and starve it. Since the coil would be inserted into the blood vessel through a thin catheter, the technique would be minimally invasive with respect to the placenta and uterus.\nUPMC\u2019s Center for Innovative Fetal Intervention had the resources to support the procedure. \u201cI talked with our interventional radiologist, and he agreed,\u201d says Dr. Emery. \u201cHe has years of experience embolizing tumors and I have years of experience accessing fetal blood vessels. Together, we had the experience needed to perform the operation.\u201d\n\n\n\n \r\n \r\n Subscribe to the UPMC Next newsletter \r\n \r\n Enter your email to subscribe\r\n \r\n \r\n\t \r\n \r\n Continue\r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n I understand that by providing my email address, I agree to receive emails from UPMC. I understand that I may opt out of receiving such communications at any time.\r\n \r\n \r\n \n\n\n\nRestoring Blood and Oxygen to the Fetus\nWhen Dr. Emery and the UPMC team performed the procedure, the microcoil embolization stopped the blood flow instantly, killing the tumor while leaving the placenta intact, and restoring normal blood and oxygen flow to the fetus. The fetus recovered, the pregnancy continued, and the mother delivered a healthy baby boy.\n\u201cPeople have tried all sorts of ways of doing this using fetoscopes and bipolar cautery, with really mixed results,\u201d says Dr. Emery. \u201cThis is the first time where it was a very, very minimally invasive procedure, extremely safe for mom, with a successful outcome.\u201d\nLower Risk, Better Odds\nWith these promising results, Dr. Emery sees value to the continued use of the technique. Although they are rare, life-threatening chorangiomas can occur in patients who live far from advanced fetal care centers like UPMC. \u201cOne of the benefits of this technique is that you can do it just about anywhere \u2014 you don\u2019t need elaborate facilities,\u201d explains Dr. Emery. \u201cThere\u2019s minimal anesthesia and minimal trauma involved. Because it\u2019s so low risk, you can perform it earlier in the pregnancy, when the odds of a positive outcome are better.\u201d\nThe Center for Innovative Fetal Intervention at UPMC\nPioneering ways to save new lives is central to the mission of UPMC\u2019s Center for Innovative Fetal Intervention. Founded by Dr. Emery in 2007, the center brings together the powerful resources of UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital, the University of Pittsburgh McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, UPMC Children\u2019s Hospital of Pittsburgh, and Magee-Womens Research Institute to pioneer new, cutting-edge techniques to share with the global medical community. As a member of the North American Fetal Therapy Network, a consortium of 35 academic centers in the United States and Canada that will share the research, the UPMC Center for Innovative Fetal Intervention is at the forefront of advancing the science of saving very tiny, very fragile lives worldwide.