Surgery Corrects Spina Bifida Before Birth
Reported August 15, 2011
PHILADELPHIA (Ivanhoe Newswire) –Spina bifida is one of the most common birth defects of the central nervous system, affecting more than 1,000 children born every year. Now doctors are performing surgery on babies with spina bifida before they are even born.
Mia Lisa Capuano is an 11-year-old in constant motion and her proud parents capture every cartwheel. Dance recitals were never supposed to happen.
We were given a prognosis of wheelchair bound, breathing tube, feeding tube, cognitive issues, Giovanna Capuano, Mia Lisas mother told Ivanhoe.
Doctors diagnosed Mia Lisa with spina bifida before she was born. Patients with spina bifida have a defect in the spine that leaves delicate nerves exposed. Pediatric surgeon Dr. Scott Adzick is one of a team of surgeons studying the benefits of correcting spina bifida in the womb instead of waiting until after birth.
We thought it made sense if we were going to correct this, to do it as early in gestation as we could, as early in the pregnancy as we could to try to minimize damage to the exposed spinal cord, Dr. Scott Adzick, Surgeon in chief at the Childrens Hospital of Philadelphia told Ivanhoe.
At nineteen weeks gestation, doctors make an incision in the mothers abdomen and uterus and position the babys back near the incision site. Surgeons close the lesion, then seal the mothers uterus.
A seven-year randomized study of nearly two hundred babies found those who underwent fetal surgery had better motor function. Forty percent of the patients who had fetal surgery could walk unassisted as compared to 20 percent who had surgery after birth.
The Capuanos have no doubt the fetal surgery gave their daughter the chance to dance, swim, and just be a normal kid.
Shes a miracle. Living proof of a miracle, Capuano concluded.
Doctors say fetal surgery increases the risk of premature birth, and scarring in the mothers uterus. Experts say this study shows the benefits of the surgery outweigh those risks.