Spina Bifida Surgery:
Your Experience Depends on Our Experience
By the Numbers More than 1,642Referrals for suspected Myelomeningocele (MMC)
More than 894Evaluations for suspected MMC199Fetal surgeries for MMC All numbers reflect data from 1995-March 2014 at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. 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.
Read the Benefits of Spina Bifida Surgery Press Release
Read the study abstract in the New England Journal of Medicine
Listen to a New England Journal of Medicine podcast about the article
“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.
A dedicated team and specially designed facilities
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.
We know that when you entrust your baby’s life to us for spina bifida surgery, experience is everything.
Questions to consider when you choose a center for prenatal spina bifida surgery
- What is the experience of the individual team members in performing the prenatal spina bifida surgery and in caring for both patients: mothers and babies?
- Does the team include the following members: fetal surgeon; neurosurgeon; maternal-fetal medicine specialist; maternal and fetal anesthesiologist; fetal cardiologist; neonatologist; advanced practice, operating room, labor and delivery and neonatal surgery nurses?
- Similarly, what is the experience of the team working together to perform this procedure and provide all care around it?
- Was the center a participant in the landmark Management of Myelomeningocele Study (MOMS)?
- Does the center meet the guidelines for maternal-fetal surgery for myelomeningocele laid out by the MMC Maternal-Fetal Management Task Force in February 2014?
- Has the program published its basic and clinical spina bifida research findings in recognized scientific journals — thereby helping to advance the field’s knowledge?
- Is the pediatric hospital in which the fetal spina bifida surgery is performed ranked among the best in the world?
- Does the program have a dedicated birth unit within the pediatric hospital, staffed and fully equipped to manage the delicate delivery required after fetal surgery for spina bifida?
- Is the newborn intensive care unit experienced in caring for babies born after fetal surgery for spina bifida?
- Are all pediatric subspecialties that may be needed by the baby — such as orthopaedics, urology, physical therapy and radiology — immediately available?
- Does the hospital have a comprehensive program for long-term follow-up of spina bifida patients as they grow?
Watch the Birth of a Breakthrough: Spina Bifida Video
The Birth of a Breakthrough Video explores spina bifida diagnosis, treatment options, delivery and follow-up care at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
Resources for Professionals
Our Spina Bifida Toolkit is filled with resources for professionals, including information about our approach to treatment, surgical referral guidelines for in utero MMC repair and more.
In the News
Audrey underwent prenatal repair for spina bifida and marked an important milestone for the CFDT: 1,000 Fetal Surgeries »
In June 2011, reporters from NPR spent two days at CHOP following patient Sarah White's experience as she underwent fetal surgery for MMC, now a standard of care. Read the story »