A Queensland hospital has performed Australian-first spinal surgery on a baby diagnosed with spina bifida while it was still in the womb.
A team from Mater, in collaboration with a team from Vanderbilt University Hospital in the USA, are the first in Australia to have performed in-utero spinal surgery on a baby diagnosed with spina bifida.
Mater’s team, led by Director of Maternal Fetal Medicine Dr Glenn Gardener, performed the surgery on a 24 week-old in-utero baby yesterday.
“The surgery went as well as we could have hoped and both mother and baby are doing well. My sincere thanks go to the Vanderbilt team who have supported and assisted us to complete this surgery in Australia,” Dr Gardener said.
“While this surgery isn’t a cure for spina bifida it does significantly improve the outcomes for babies with spina bifida and I’m delighted we have been able to perform this surgery, saving them the added stress of travelling overseas to access this treatment.”
To ensure the surgery went smoothly, the teams from Vanderbilt and Mater both participated in a simulated surgery rehearsal prior to the actual surgery taking place.
“To be able to simulate the surgery is an amazing opportunity to be able to step through the procedure, find out if there are any issues and to play out different scenarios to ensure that safety for the mother and baby is optimised prior to the actual day of surgery,” Dr Gardener said.
“Ultimately it is our hope that through this partnership between Mater Mothers’ Hospital and the Vanderbilt team, we will be able to provide hope and support for these families in Australia.”
Spina Bifida is a condition where the lower part of a baby’s spine is open and it affects 1 in 2000 pregnancies in Australia. Currently families often discover the diagnosis of spina bifida at their 18 to 20 week ultrasound scan and to date, Australian parents have had to wait until the baby is born to perform surgery.
Modern medicine never ceases to amaze me. This is so fantastic.
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