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February 28, 2013

Fetal Surgery Experts Review Current Status of a Medical Frontier

Contact: Ashley Moore, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, at 267-426-6071 or

Fetal surgery—including surgical interventions to repair birth defects in the womb—is progressing into medical practice in highly specialized centers. Advanced imaging and diagnostic tools, new instruments and medications, and greater depth of experience are driving this rapidly evolving frontier of medicine.

“Birth defects remain the leading cause of infant mortality in the United States, but we have been privileged to help advance the treatment of these defects in ways that were only dreamed of a generation ago,” said fetal and pediatric general surgeon N. Scott Adzick, MD, medical director of the Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment (CFDT) at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), where he is surgeon-in-chief.

Internationally prominent as a pioneer in fetal surgery, Adzick is the guest editor of the Feb. 2013 issue of the journal Seminars in Pediatric Surgery, an issue entirely devoted to advances in fetal surgery. This is the third time in 20 years that Adzick has taken on this role, updating the state of this field since his previous contributions to the same journal in 1993 and 2003.

Focus on diagnostic and treatment innovations, basic science insights, and therapy improvements

Adzick and the article authors, all current or former members of the CFDT at CHOP, describe innovations in imaging modalities, surgical techniques and instrumentation, insights from basic science, and improvements to therapy grounded in experience and practice, including a landmark clinical trial of fetal surgery for spina bifida. “The presentations reflect the philosophy of one center, gleaned from two decades of clinical and experimental work,” Adzick writes in his preface to the special issue.

The CFDT is a premier program, one of a handful worldwide to offer a full range of fetal procedures. Since the center opened in 1995, more than 13,000 parents have used its services, from all 50 U.S. states and from over 50 other countries.

The 10 review articles in the journal cover a range of topics including: 

Additional articles examine these topics:

Note: Dr. Bebbington, co-author of the article on twin-twin transfusion syndrome, was formerly at the CFDT at CHOP and is now at the Texas Fetal Center, University of Texas Medical School at Houston.

More information

Access the article

Seminars in Pediatric Surgery - February 2013:

About the Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment at CHOP

The Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia is an internationally recognized leader in fetal surgery and fetal care. One of the only programs of its kind in the world, it offers a comprehensive breadth of services, including fetal therapy, to support patients from prenatal evaluation through delivery, postnatal care, and long-term follow-up. Established in 1995, the Center has welcomed more than 13,000 expectant parents and received referrals from all 50 states and more than 50 countries. Its multidisciplinary team brings decades of experience to the care and treatment of the fetus and the expectant mother. The Center has performed nearly 1000 fetal surgeries, including complex open procedures for birth defects such as spina bifida; less invasive fetoscopic or ultrasound-guided surgeries for conditions such as twin-twin transfusion syndrome; and specialized coordinated delivery approaches for babies that require surgical intervention while still on maternal-placental life support (EXIT delivery). For more information visit

Note to reporters

To arrange an interview with Dr. N. Scott Adzick or other fetal medicine experts at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, please contact Ashley Moore at 267-426-6071 or She also can provide family stories about now-healthy children who underwent fetal surgery at Children’s Hospital.

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