Fetal Surgery in Rhode Island
There is a growing branch of pediatric surgery that specializes in treating birth defects while a fetus is still in the womb. This complex surgical subspecialty is sometimes referred to as in-utero surgery or prenatal surgery.
It is used to treat common congenital abnormalities such as twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome, a condition that occurs in 20% of identical twins, and if severe and left untreated, can lead to the death of both twins.
What is In-Utero Spina Bifida Surgery?
Fetal surgery is also indicated in less common conditions, such as spina bifida, in which the baby’s spinal cord doesn’t close properly during prenatal development. Your doctor may recommend fetal surgery if the spina bifida, or myelomeningocele (MMC), is open and the lower spinal is exposed to amniotic fluid while in the uterus.
During an in-utero spina bifida procedure, a team of surgeons makes an incision over the mother’s abdomen and the uterus, partially exposing the fetus. Using microscopic instruments, the defect in the spinal cord is repaired, and the fetus is returned inside the womb.
In some cases of spina bifida and other severe birth defects, it may be preferable to perform fetal surgery rather than wait until the baby is born and then perform an operation. Check with your doctor to determine if prenatal surgery is better for you and your child.
Fetal surgery is also used to remove rare tumors, repair holes in the diaphragm, or remove very large lung lesions.
To schedule an appointment with us or to learn more about this branch of surgery, please call the Fetal Treatment Program of New England at (401) 228-0559, and ask for Debra Watson-Smith, RN, Fetal Treatment Program Director.
BSA Fetal Surgery Specialists
Video: First Successful In-Utero Spina Bifida Surgery in the Northeast
Dr. Francois I. Luks of Brown Surgical Associates’ pediatric surgery division is recognized for his work on the first and only successful in-utero spina bifida surgery performed in New England, right here in Providence, Rhode Island.