Fetal Surgery for Repair of Spina Bifida
Fetal surgery: An exciting new option for spina bifida
A landmark study, co-led by experts at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, proves that babies who have surgery to repair spina bifida while still in the womb have better outcomes than babies who have surgery after birth. The positive outcomes include a decreased risk of death or need for shunt placement in the brain by the age of 12 months, plus improved mental and motor function.
Members of the fetal surgery team at Vanderbilt pioneered the innovative surgical procedure to repair myelomeningocele, the most serious form of spina bifida. Surgeons at Vanderbilt performed the first-ever in utero repair for myelomeningocele in 1997 on Corey Meyer and her unborn son Daniel. Since those early procedures, Noel Tulipan, M.D., internationally renowned neurosurgeon and director of pediatric neurosurgery, has performed more than 200 prenatal surgeries to repair the spina bifida defect.
Vanderbilt University Medical Center is one of only three centers in the U.S. that participated in the National Institutes of Health (NIH) funded Management of Myelomeningocele Study (MOMS), a clinical trial comparing the two methods of treatment for babies with spina bifida: fetal surgery before birth and surgical closure after birth. The results of the seven-year study show that repairing the fetal defect, typically between 19 and 26 weeks of gestation, improves the health of children with spina bifida.
Performing surgery on a baby while it is still in the womb involves two patients, the mother and her unborn baby. We care for both patients by bringing together adult and pediatric experts working in one team.
|Noel Tulipan, M.D., Mary Dabrowiak, M.S.N.,
and Kelly Bennett, M.D
Why choose us
- We pioneered the procedure in 1997.
- We have performed over 300 fetal repair surgeries.
- Noel Tulipan, M.D., has performed more fetal repair of spina bifida surgeries than anyone in the world.
- Our multi-specialty team understands the process from beginning to end.
Access to innovation
Vanderbilt University Medical Center is the only centrally located facility in the U.S. currently offering prenatal treatment for myelomeningocele. Almost 50 percent of the U.S. population lives within 600 miles of Nashville. The lodging options near the Medical Center are convenient and affordable.
Caring for your whole family
We know this can be a stressful time for the entire family. Nervous fathers, anxious grandparents, and concerned siblings are all provided with the same high-quality care extended to expecting or new mothers and their babies. We will support you every step of the way.
Meet one of our patients
Maryann Dotegowski was the 19th patient to undergo open fetal surgery at Vanderbilt to repair her unborn baby's spina bifida. Her daughter, Emily, is now a thriving teen. Click the image to learn more about Emily.
- The New England Journal of Medicine (2011 study results)
- Living With Spina Bifida
- North American Fetal Therapy Network (NAFTNet)
© 2016 Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt