Weeks before they even took their first breath, two children had their spinal tubes repaired by surgeons in the first…
Weeks before they even took their first breath, two children had their spinal tubes repaired by surgeons in the first operations of their kind in Britain.
Spina bifida operations were performed successfully by a team at London University Hospital this summer of two children while they were still in the womb.
Spina bifida is usually treated after birth but research shows that the backbone of the child can earlier stop the loss of spinal fluid and lead to better long-term health and mobility results.
Frankie Lavis, of Plymouth, was the first child to undergo revolutionary surgery for spina bifida while still in the womb of Belgium 2013 (Plymouth Hospital NHS Trust / PA)
A 30- strong team performed the two operations, coordinated by UCL’s professor Anne David, who has worked for three years to get the procedure to ll patients in the UK.
She said mothers previously had to travel to the United States, Belgium or Switzerland for the procedure.
“It’s amazing. Women now do not need to leave United Kingdom,” said Prof David.
“They can have their family with them. There are less costs. So all good things. “
The UCLH and Great Ormond Street Hospital operations group traveled to Belgium to train a plant in Leuven where more than 40 such operations have been carried out.
Spina bifida is a condition that develops during pregnancy when the backbone is not formed correct way, creating a gap that leaves the spinal cord unprotected.
This may cause the child’s spinal fluid to leak and put the brain’s development at risk, which can lead to prolonged
More than 200 children are born with spina bifida every year in the UK , according to the charity organization Shine.
The extension of obstetric surgery in Britain comes after a major US attempt confirmed the health and mobility benefits of the procedure.
This trial showed a decrease of 50% of the need to have shunts inserted in the brain to drain fluid , a procedure that carries long term complications.
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Children in the US survey were also more independent after surgery, said Prof David.
“There were some children who had grown up after a fetal operation that went and you would not expect them to go unless they had it.”
“So it’s important to be able to offer surgery to patients here in the UK. “
During the procedure the incision is made in the uterus in an exact position to access the child’s backbone and the seam closed the gap caused by spina bifida.
The operation, which takes about 90 minutes, poses a risk of early work but less invasive keyhole methods are explored.
“We put mom on some drugs that help to relax them, but there is still a risk,” said Prof David.
She said a “fetoscopic” approach developed with the hope that this will further minimize maternal complications.
Surgery will be available to suitable patients through the newly established Center for Prenatal Therapy at UC LH and GOSH, possible through funding of £ 450,000 from hospitals charity organizations.
“These vital funds have given training for the surgical team and will fund surgery for first 10 patients,” said UCLH’s clinical director of women’s health, Professor Donald Peebles.
Frankie Lavis, from Plymouth, became the first British baby to undergo the revolutionary operation in Belgium in 2013.