Surgeons operate on babies’ spine in the womb. Spina bifida, a birth defects which involves incomplete development of backbone and membranes around the spinal cord. Usually, in this condition surgeons repair spinal cord after children’s birth, but a surgery before birth can help baby develop better while inside the mother’s womb.
Surgeries on two different babies with spina bifida show that the complex condition can be operated before the baby’s birth. In the United Kingdom first, a team of experts from University College London Hospitals (UCLH), University College London (UCL), and Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) successfully repaired spinal cords of two different babies while they were inside their mothers’ wombs. The specialists report that both mothers and both babies are doing fine.
Now, the European surgeons along with specialists from Belgium’s University Hospitals Leuven further working to make the intervention widely available.
The British experts wanted to develop something better than the postnatal procedure which is complex and difficult surgery to perform. Treating this problem in the womb only may avoid developmental problems of children, according to lead neurosurgeon Dominic Thompson, from GOSH.
Lead fetal surgeon Jan Deprest explains, “Operating in the womb involves opening the uterus, exposing the spina bifida without delivering the baby, closing the defect, and then repairing the uterus to leave the baby safely inside.”
“Closure of spina bifida in the womb using this method is an alternative to postnatal surgery and has been shown to improve short and medium-term outcomes. While neither intervention is fully curative, in fetal surgery, the defect is closed earlier, which prevents damage to the spinal cord in the last third of pregnancy,” he said.
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