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Mid-Atlantic Hospital Pioneers Spina Bifida Surgery

Fetus with myelomeningocele (spina bifida) - Credit: Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

Fetus with myelomeningocele (spina bifida) – Credit: Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

Pat Farnack Pat Farnack
Pat Farnack lives in two different worlds, sipping her early mo...
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NEW YORK (WCBS 880) - At the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), they have pioneered treating children with Spina Bifida while still in the womb.

They have just completed what they call the “moms” trial.

WCBS 880’s Pat Farnack with CHOP’s Dr. Scott Adzick (Download HERE)

Spina Bifida occurs when part of the spinal column does not close around the spinal cord.

Amazingly, they do the surgery at between 19 and 25 weeks (halfway thru pregnancy)when the fetus is only three inches long.

Dr. Scott Adzick, CHOP surgeon-in-chief, says, “Everything is of course smaller. We wear special magnifying [lenses] that allow us to magnify things by a factor of four to see well and we use delicate instrumentation.”

LINK: Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

“It’s a very good feeling and it’s directly manifested when they see the kids that have benefited. That’s really what it’s all about. We can talk about statistics and things of that sort, but when you see a child who has clearly benefitted, whose life has clearly been changed, who’s able to walk and doesn’t have a shunt, who’s developing in a normal or nearly normal way, that’s pretty cool,” says Adzick.

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Im their studies, kids fixed by fetal surgery showed much greater mobility than kids who had surgery after birth.

Dr. Adzick says, “We found that twice as many babies who had undergone fetal repair could walk independently compared to those who had repair after birth. So, that’s one of the things you look for when you think of the Spina Bifida problem. You think of a child wearing leg braces or being in a wheelchair… There’s a big benefit in terms of control emulation and control of the legs.”