Some babies are born with defects, and it can be heartbreaking for many families. One clinic in Cleveland is looking to change that after successfully operating on a 23-week-old fetus with spina bifida—a first for the hospital.
After preparing for more than a year, doctors at the Cleveland Clinic, Ohio, performed the highly risky and delicate procedure in February 2019. A baby girl was then delivered on June 3 by cesarean section at almost 37 weeks old. Both mother and daughter are doing well.
The baby girl was born near full-term about four months after the surgery and is doing well! https://t.co/6T19oMMOnY
— WTHR.com (@WTHRcom) June 19, 2019
Dr. Darrell Cass, director of fetal surgery at the Cleveland Clinic’s Fetal Center, led the team in what is sure to be one of many such operations. “I am honored to work with this amazing team of clinicians and to see our efforts come to fruition after preparing for so long,” said Dr. Cass, according to a media release by the Cleveland Clinic.
“Families in this region now have more options when it comes to making these types of decisions and we are thrilled to be able to provide the care needed for these complex cases.”
GREAT NEWS! After preparing for more than a year, the Cleveland Clinic has announced that they have successfully performed surgery on a fetus inside the uterus to repair spina bifida.
During the surgery, which was performed through an incision that exposed the uterus, an ultrasound was used to locate the fetus. An incision was then made in the uterus, and with the back of the fetus visible, the team was able to repair the various layers of tissue and skin to cover the defect. The uterus was then sewn up, and the fetus allowed to grow as much as possible before delivery.
“By successfully repairing the defect before birth, we’re allowing this child to have the best possible outcome and…
“By successfully repairing the defect before birth, we’re allowing this child to have the best possible outcome and significantly improve her quality of life,” Cass said. “There are different measures of quality in determining success for fetal repairs and in this particular case, all metrics for maximum quality were achieved.”
The Cleveland Clinic in Ohio announced Wednesday that its staff had successfully performed its first in utero surgery earlier this year on a 23-week-old fetus with spina bifida, according to a report.
One month after the repair, the baby’s brain was seen to have reverted to a normal appearance. Usually after fetal surgery, the average age for delivery is 34 weeks; however, this baby was delivered at 37 weeks, giving her the best possible chance for success.
Advances in science and technology have opened the door to exciting possibilities for surgeons to do prenatal operations…
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 1,645 babies are born with spina bifida each year in the United States. Spina bifida occurs when the neural tube at the lower part of the spine only partially closes, leading to damage to the spinal cord and nerves and sometimes also the brain. It is often detected in routine scans when the fetus is about 18 weeks old.
“Spina bifida leads to disability in a baby, it can cause paralysis of the legs, it can affect their ability to urinate,” Cass said, according to Fox 8. “A build-up of pressure and fluid and that pressure can lead to brain damage.”
Spina bifida is a defect that is often detected in routine scans when the fetus is about 18 weeks old. The neural tube at the lower part of the spine only partially closes, leading to damage to the spinal cord and nerves and sometimes also the brain.
“Although the surgery was a success, spina bifida is never cured,” said Dr. Cass. “Moving forward, the baby will require ongoing supportive care provided by a multidisciplinary team of caregivers in our Spina Bifida Clinic, which will involve neurology, urology, orthopedics, developmental pediatrics and neurosurgery, among other specialists.”
Taking folic acid supplements before and during pregnancy can help reduce the risks of a child developing neural tube defects, according to the CDC.