Amniotic Band Syndrome (Congenital Constriction Band Syndrome)

With one of the nation’s largest groups of pediatric orthopedic specialists, a team of skilled pediatric neurosurgeons, and the nation’s highest concentration of pediatric rehabilitation medicine specialists, Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare provides superior care for patients who have amniotic band syndrome (ABS).

We help our patients achieve their highest possible levels of independence, comfort and happiness in a family-centered environment.

Why Choose Gillette?

  • Gillette is nationally and internationally recognized as a leader in pediatric orthopedics.
  • We provide nonsurgical treatments when possible, and surgical treatments when necessary, that allow our patients to achieve the best possible outcomes in of function and appearance.
  • Our specialists collaborate to provide care for children who have related conditions caused by amniotic band syndrome, such as cleft lip and palate, clubfoot and other complex issues.
  • Our coordinated approach often lets patients see a team of specialists during a single visit at one location.


ABS occurs when a fetus becomes entangled in fibrous, string-like strands, called amniotic bands, while in the womb. Because the fetus continues to grow and the bands do not, they restrict blood flow and disrupt the fetus’s normal growth and development. In some cases, the strands might be wrapped so tightly that they cause severe deformities to the face, arms, fingers, legs and toes. The most severe cases of ABS can be fatal.

Amniotic Band Syndrome Symptoms and Effects

The symptoms and effects of ABS vary depending on where the bands restrict blood flow and how early the bands become entangled around a fetus during development.

Symptoms of ABS might include:

  • Cleft lip or palate, if a band wraps around the infant’s face
  • A missing limb or part of a limb (congenital amputation)
  • Physical defects of the stomach or chest
  • A permanent mark or indentation on the infant’s finger, arm, leg or toe

Amniotic Band Syndrome Causes and Incidence

The causes of ABS are unknown. A commonly accepted theory is that the fetus is exposed to bands of tissue when the inner membrane (amnion)—which surrounds and protects the fetus—ruptures and the outer membrane (chorion) does not. Bands from the ruptured amnion move freely within the uterus, entangling the fetus in fibrous tissues.

ABS is not an inherited condition. It is rare and no two cases of ABS are exactly alike.

Amniotic Band Syndrome Tests and Treatments

Because the abnormalities it causes are sometimes visible in the womb, specialists might diagnose ABS during a prenatal ultrasound. Our orthopedic specialists offer prenatal consultations. We'll consult with parents about amniotic band syndrome  and educate them about current treatment options, provide appropriate counseling and if parents wish, help them plan a course of treatment.

If amniotic bands develop later in pregnancy, the condition might not be diagnosed until birth. Most cases of ABS are diagnosed after performing a physical examination once the infant is born.

Sometimes ABS causes mild abnormalities that don’t require treatment. In other cases, physical therapy or occupational therapy helps an infant increase strength and improve function.

When amniotic bands constrict an infant’s tissues, our specialists might perform surgery to release the bands. The type of surgery depends on the location of the bands, the number of bands and how deeply they constrict the infant’s tissues. Some infants might require surgery to release the bands immediately after birth; others might not have surgery until they are older.

In cases where an entire limb is lost because of ABS, we might recommend a prosthesis. Typically a child can begin using one at 12 to 18 months, or near the time they begin to stand and walk.

When ABS affects the face—such as with cleft lip—our specialists in craniofacial and plastic surgery might need to perform reconstructive surgery to repair the cleft.

Amniotic Band Syndrome Services

Specialties and services most often involved in the care and treatment of ABS include:

For more information about Gillette’s specialties and services, search Conditions and Care.

Why Gillette?

Because all children deserve a lifetime of amazing health care.

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