Tags: uk | unborn | babies | surgery

UK Unborn Babies' Surgery Repairs Spines

clean surgical instruments on a table
Two unborn babies underwent surgery to repair their spines in the first procedure of its kind to be performed in the U.K. (Dmytro Zinkevych/Dreamstime.com)

By    |   Wednesday, 24 October 2018 10:12 AM

U.K. surgeons successfully repaired the spines of two unborn babies in a surgery that required a team of 30 doctors and was the first of its kind performed in the U.K., the University College Hospital in London revealed Wednesday.

The babies had open spina bifida, a birth defect in which the spinal column does not close all of the way.

According to the Spina Bifida Association, the condition is the most common permanently disabling birth defect in the U.S. and affects about eight babies born each day.

Usually doctors perform corrective surgery within days of birth but this specialist fetal surgery can give the baby a much better chance of walking.

"Operating in the womb involves opening the uterus, exposing the spina bifida without delivering the baby, closing the defect and then repairing the uterus to leave the baby safely inside," said lead fetal surgeon Jan Deprest of UCLH and Leuven.

"Closure of spina bifida in the womb using this method is an alternative to postnatal surgery, and has been shown to improve short and medium-term outcomes. While neither intervention is fully curative, in fetal surgery, the defect is closed earlier, which prevents damage to the spinal cord in the last third of pregnancy," Deprest added.

Previously, women were required to travel abroad to undergo such a surgery but this latest achievement, which is a first in the U.K., changes that.

"It's fantastic," said UCL professor Anne David, according to BBC. "Women now don't have to travel out of the UK. They can have their family with them. There are less expenses. So all good things."

The Centre for Prenatal Therapy at Great Ormond Street Hospital and UCL hospital said the surgery will be available for patients.

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Two unborn babies in the U.K. underwent surgery for spina bifida that required a team of 30 doctors and was the first such surgery performed in the U.K., according to the University College Hospital in London.
uk, unborn, babies, surgery
Wednesday, 24 October 2018 10:12 AM
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