1st fetal spina bifida surgeries performed in the UK: 3 things to know

Shayna Korol -   Print  |

Surgeons from University College London, UCL Hospitals and London-based Great Ormond Street Hospital performed the first fetal spina bifida surgeries in the U.K.

Here are three things to know:

1. The 30-person team repaired the spines of two fetuses with open spina bifida in separate operations.

2. Until now, expectant mothers could choose to undergo the fetal surgery abroad or have the babies undergo postnatal surgery. Spina bifida closure in utero has been demonstrated to improve short- and medium-term outcomes compared to postnatal surgery.

"The reduction in need for shunts is particularly important," said pediatric surgeon and UCL professor Paolo De Coppi, MD, PhD, "as long-term follow-up of children that have undergone prenatal closure in the womb suggests that brain function, mobility and total independence were higher in non-shunted than shunted children aged five."

3. According to UCL professor and fetal medicine consultant Anna David, MD, PhD, UCL has spent three years working to bring this service to the U.K.

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