CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - This week the Cleveland Clinic announced it successfully performed its first in utero fetal surgery to repair a spina bifida birth defect in a nearly 23-week-old fetus.
A multispecialty team of doctors performed the surgery in February, and the baby girl was later delivered by caesarean section near full term on June 3.
It was the first successful surgery of its kind in northern Ohio and both mother and daughter are doing well.
Spina bifida is a birth defect that is most often discovered during the routine anatomy scan typically performed when a fetus is around 18 weeks old.
The condition affects the lowest part of the spine and occurs when the neural tube does not fully close, causing the backbone that protects the spinal cord not to form as it should.
This often results in damage to the spinal cord and nerves and can even lead to brain damage.
“Although the surgery was a success, spina bifida is never cured,” said Dr. Cass, who joined Cleveland Clinic as director of Fetal Surgery in October 2017 to build its fetal surgery program.
“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.”
The surgical team from Cleveland Clinic’s Fetal Center worked for more than a year to prepare for this first surgery, including making site visits to other centers, conducting simulations, and consulting with other experts in the field.
“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
“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.”