Spina Bifida Fetal Surgery for Myelomeningocele Breakthrough – Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia


>>For the first time in the history of mankind,
outside of postnatal repair of myelomeningocele, we have a new way to offer hope to the family
and to the child with prenatally diagnosed spina bifida.>>Early studies that we did suggested that
fetal surgery might be beneficial, but to prove it, we had to do a randomized prospective
clinical trial.>>The MOMS trial started in 2003. And it
was a head-to-head comparison between repair of myelomeningocele after birth to repair
of myelomeningocele before birth.>>And what the MOMS trial has basically showed
us is that the fetal surgery group has done significantly better in virtually every way
compared to conventional treatment.>>So for the first time ever in fetal surgery,
we now have the gold standard, or a randomized prospective trial, to give evidence, to give
proof to families, our colleagues, our peers, that fetal surgery is more effective than
surgery after birth.>>The results of the MOMS trial were very,
very close to the results that we found in the group of patients that we performed fetal
surgery on before the start of the MOMS trial.>>In terms of decreased need for a shunt,
which is a big deal, in terms of better motor performance, and more likely ability to be
able to walk, which is what you really want.>>It’s very gratifying to take an idea nearly
20 years ago and sort of run with it. Test it experimentally, and then to cautiously offer a new form of therapy to families with the hope that there would be benefit.>>The hope of potentially better long-term
outcomes, decreased disabilities, improved quality of life.>>That’s what keeping me going. That not
only is the science there, but the ability to support families on that journey is there,
and as a nurse, you get to be involved with both.>>Honestly, this is the neatest thing I’ve
ever been involved in in my entire professional life.>>A place like CHOP has such depth of expertise.>>To be involved with such a committed, passionate
team to find the answers is really a privilege.>>It’s all really focused on, “what can we
do to make children’s lives better?”>>You begin with a concept and you end up
with hope, hope for families, hope for mothers who are carrying babies with myelomeningocele,
hope for those kids themselves, of course.

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