Open spina bifida (OSB), a birth defect that occurs in approximately 1 in 1,500 births in the United States, results from failure of the spine to close at some point along its length during fetal development. The defect leads to injury and loss of spinal cord tissue at and below the defect. Research showed that antenatal treatment of OSB via open fetal surgery, which requires opening the maternal abdomen and uterus, can improve the outcome of babies affected with OSB. However, the mother is at risk for rupture of the uterus (uterine rupture) and requires delivery by cesarean section for the affected pregnancy and for any subsequent pregnancy.
Doctors at The Fetal Institute, Miami and the USFetus, in collaboration with colleagues in Brazil, have developed a minimally-invasive (fetoscopic) technique to treat fetuses with OSB, which does not require opening the uterus. This allows the mother to deliver vaginally and avoid the risk of uterine rupture. The doctors are currently conducting a clinical trial to validate this new fetoscopic technique. For further information, please click here.