Audrey will soon be off to softball practice with only the aid of her pink and purple ankle-foot orthosis braces. How did she bypass the most severe symptoms of myelomeningocele (MMC), a central nervous system birth defect that caused her spinal cord and surrounding nerves to protrude from her back? Six years ago, Audrey had fetal surgery for spina bifida at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia — a scar she wears proudly.
Pioneering surgeons led by N. Scott Adzick, MD, MMM, CHOP’s Surgeon-in-Chief, first performed fetal surgery to repair spina bifida in 1998 at CHOP’s Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment. Since then, the Center, of which Dr. Adzick is Founder and Director, has continued to improve the technique, leading to significant advances.
Results from the “MOMS2: Follow-up of the Management of Myelomeningocele Study,” recently published in Pediatrics, show significant physical and emotional benefits in school-age children who received corrective surgery in the womb for MMC, the most severe form of spina bifida.
“Caregivers should take these findings into account when counseling expectant mothers to ensure that families considering prenatal surgery for their fetus understand the potential risks and benefits,” said Dr. Adzick, coauthor of the study and professor of surgery at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.
Read more about Audrey and this follow-up research to the landmark 2011 MOMS study, which showed prenatal surgery for spina bifida has measureable benefits over surgery after birth.