Pittsburgh Surgeons Repair Spina Bifida in Utero at 25 Weeks Gestation

Photo Credit: University of Pittsburgh

PITTSBURGH, Pa. (Post-Gazette) A new type of fetal surgery to repair the most common and severe type of spina bifida has been done for the first time in Pittsburgh and now three months after being born, the little patient is showing almost completely normal leg function.

Surgery was done by a team of specialists — led by Dr. Stephen Emery, director of the Center for Innovative Fetal Intervention at UPMC Magee, and Dr. Stephanie Greene, director of vascular and perinatal neurosurgery at UPMC Children’s Hospital.

“We’re very thankful for them; they not only changed Emery’s life but also our whole family’s lives,” said Allee Mullen, 28, of Eighty Four, who had the surgery in January. She and her husband, Kevin, named their daughter for the two surgeons: Emery Greene Mullen.

Children’s reports its doctors close similar open neural tube defects — called myelomeningocele — in 10 to 20 infants each year after birth. When the surgery is done in the uterus, according to clinical research published in 2011, fewer neurological problems show up.

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Read the press release from the University of Pittsburgh here.


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