Open Fetal Surgery Repairs Spina Bifida In Unborn Baby

September 4, 2012


Dr Darrell Cass with Davis Family; Spina bifida patientI am hopeful that Kellen will look back proudly at the media attention he received as an infant. Kellen Davis, born February 28, underwent open fetal surgery repair of his myelomeningocele defect at Texas Children’s Fetal Center.

Kellen’s proud parents, Justin and Clare Davis, sought treatment at our Fetal Center for myelomeningocele, also known as spina bifida or open neural tube defect (NTD), when Clare was about 19 weeks pregnant. Following a comprehensive evaluation to determine whether fetal surgery could be offered, the Davis family chose to proceed, with Clare becoming one of the first patients in Texas to receive in-utero surgery for this disorder.

Spina bifida, the most common permanently disabling birth defect, occurs in about 3 out of every 10,000 live births in the U.S. Successful closure of the spina bifida defect in-utero reduces the risk of hydrocephalus and may improve motor function in select patients. Recently, a NICHD-funded study entitled the Management of Myelomeningocele Study published in the New England Journal of Medicine demonstrated a significant decrease in the risk of hydrocephalus and improvement in lower extremity function for select patients undergoing fetal closure of the spine, compared to patients who underwent standard closure after birth.

As one of Kellen’s physicians, I am only a part of a larger team that comes together to perform fetal surgeries. Good results depend on the multidisciplinary work of a team of experts that include specialists from pediatric neurosurgery, maternal fetal medicine, pediatric surgery, anesthesiology, neonatology, pediatric radiology, cardiology, urology, pediatric orthopedics and a highly dedicated group of specialized nurses, ultrasound technologists and genetic counselors. Texas Children’s has one of the longest standing and busiest spina bifida clinics in the nation and has a long history of providing specialized expert care to infants and children with spina bifida deformities.

Since his birth 6 months ago, Kellen has shown tremendous growth and improvement. He has not required a ventriculoperitoneal shunt and continues to receive comprehensive neurologic, orthopedic and urologic care.

Dr. Darrell Cass discusses Spina Bifida on The DoctorsThe Davis family and Texas Children’s Fetal Center will be featured in an episode of The Doctors. We are hopeful that this program and other educational programs may be helpful to families who might face a similar diagnosis.

The episode airs today, September 4, please visit The Doctors website for your local listing.

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