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Clinic Performs First Utero Surgery in Ohio on Fetus Before its Birth

The procedure will minimize the health risks from spina bifida.

  • A hospital in Cleveland has successfully performed in utero surgery on a fetus to repair spina bifida.
  • The fetus was still in the uterus when the procedure was performed by a team of over a dozen specialists.
  • The baby was born healthy just a few weeks after the surgery.

A hospital in Cleveland has done something truly amazing that will change the life of an unborn child. They performed in utero surgery on a fetus to repair spina bifida and it’s a resounding success.

The Cleveland Clinic gathered a team of specialists including pediatric neurosurgeons, a fetal cardiologist and pediatric anesthesiologists. They were led by Dr. Darrell Cass to perform surgery on a fetus that was still inside the uterus. The procedure repaired the infant’s birth defect when she was only 23 weeks old. Amazingly, the surgery was successful and the fetus is expected to have a better life after she is born.

The risky procedure required the doctors to operate carefully on the fetus.

Spina bifida is a birth defect where the spine doesn’t form properly and leaves the spinal cord exposed. Unfortunately, this could lead to several health problems when the child is born.

“Spina bifida leads to disability in a baby, it can cause paralysis of the legs, it can affect their ability to urinate,” Cass explained. “A build-up of pressure and fluid and that pressure can lead to brain damage.”

Both the baby and her mother recovered well after the procedure.

According to Cass, the team made several preparations before going through with the surgery. They were also concerned about complications after the procedure. Nevertheless, the baby and her mother recovered completely and the child was born in early June.

“The operation went perfectly, and in fact the repair on this baby’s back is the best that I’ve seen in the last 20 years,” Cass said.

Although there is no cure for spina bifida, Cass believes that the surgery helped in giving the baby a better chance at life.

“She will still have to deal with some disability and we are going to work on all of those things but she will be as good as she can be,” Cass said.

Learn more about the procedure below:

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