Prenatal spina bifida surgery is one of the most exciting developments in the history of treatment for birth defects. It is also an extremely complex procedure that requires extensive experience to perform successfully. Mothers who choose fetal surgery require the most expert and carefully coordinated care from the time of diagnosis, for the spina bifida surgery itself, and through the baby's delivery and care afterwards.
Spina bifida is the most common birth defect of the central nervous system, affecting about 1,500 babies born each year in the United States. A new spina bifida surgery breakthrough, reported on in the New England Journal of Medicine, is providing new possibilities to families faced with this devastating condition.
“This is the first time in history that we can offer real hope to parents who receive a prenatal diagnosis of spina bifida,” said N. Scott Adzick, MD, Surgeon-in-Chief and director of the CHOP Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment. “This is not a cure, but this trial demonstrates scientifically that we can now offer fetal surgery as a standard of care for spina bifida.”
Today, that study continues, with important follow-up that will allow clinical teams to compare the lasting outcomes of prenatal repair verus standard postnatal repair. The ongoing participation of patient families and institutions involved in the original trial will provide valuable insight into the long-term effects of the latest treatment options for spina bifida, improving the standard of care for patients today and in the future.
Surgeons at CHOP's Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment were not only pioneers in fetal surgery, they developed the prenatal spina bifida surgery procedure and have the greatest collective experience in the world. The Center's large multidisciplinary team, including fetal surgeons, neurosurgeons, anesthesiologists, fetal cardiologists and neonatologists, has worked together since 1995 — a level of ongoing collaboration that is unmatched.
The Center's facilities at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia — from a centralized area for prenatal diagnostic imaging to its dedicated fetal operating rooms, from the Special Delivery Unit to the renowned Newborn/Infant Intensive Care Unit — have been designed specifically for prenatal surgery patients and babies with birth defects.
Questions to consider when you choose a center for prenatal spina bifida surgery