Pregnancy and Delivery

Omphalocele is monitored via ultrasound during the pregnancy. The schedule of ultrasound monitoring is decided on an individual basis. It's usually not necessary to have ultrasounds more than once a month, unless something is changing.

Babies with small omphaloceles and no other defects can be delivered normally and full-term, in a center with pediatric surgeons available. Babies with very small omphaloceles can be safely transported for repair elsewhere, but most will benefit from repair shortly after birth in the same unit.

Large and giant omphaloceles should be delivered at a high-level tertiary center with pediatric surgery expertise and very good neonatology support. These babies often require prolonged respiratory support during hospitalization. Often, babies with large omphaloceles are delivered by Caesarean section to minimize the risks to the baby and the mother. You and your obstetrician will determine your delivery plans.

Treatment After Birth

Soon after birth, your child will have surgery to close the opening in the abdominal wall and return the organs to the abdomen. The pediatric surgeon will attempt to close the hole during this surgery, but sometimes this is not possible.

Extremely large omphaloceles are not surgically repaired until the baby grows. They are treated by placing painless drying agents on the omphalocele membrane.

Babies may stay in the hospital anywhere from one week to months after surgery, depending on the size of the defect. The baby's ability to tolerate feedings and breathe without assistance will determine the length of the hospital stay. Babies are discharged from the hospital when they are taking all their feedings by mouth and gaining weight.

After discharge from the hospital, your baby is at risk for bowel obstruction due to scar tissue or a kink in a loop of bowel. Symptoms of bowel obstruction include:

  • Bilious (green) vomiting
  • Bloated stomach
  • No interest in feeding

If any of these symptoms occur, contact your pediatrician immediately.

Reviewed by health care specialists at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital.

Related Information

UCSF Clinics & Centers

Intensive Care Nursery
1975 Fourth St., Third Floor
San Francisco, CA 94158
Phone: (415) 353-1565
Fax: (415) 353-1202

Fetal Treatment Center
1855 Fourth St., Second Floor, Room A-2432
San Francisco, CA 94158
Phone: (800) 793-3887
Fax: (415) 502-0660
Appointment information

Surgery Clinic
1825 Fourth St., Fifth Floor, 5B
San Francisco, CA 94158
Phone: (415) 476-2538
Fax: (415) 476-2929
Appointment information

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