As part of Spina Bifida Awareness Month in October, the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) showcases its Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment (CFDT).

A pioneering procedure developed at DFDT is a surgical procedure to repair spinal bifida in the womb, months before birth.

“Establishing fetal surgery for spina bifida as a standard of care option was one of the most exciting developments in the history of the treatment for birth defects, and one that our CHOP team has spent years helping to pioneer,” says N. Scott Adzick, MD, Surgeon-in-Chief and Director of the CFDT, in a media release from Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

“It’s very gratifying to take an idea we had over 20 years ago, test it thoroughly, apply it cautiously in the clinical setting, and, eventually, have the ability to offer a new therapy that can completely change the life of a child,” he adds.

To date, nearly 300 such procedures have been performed since 1998. In addition, a clinical trial establishing the effectiveness of the procedure was published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2011.

CHOP also offers a multidisciplinary Spina Bifida Program, with services such as comprehensive evaluation and long-term management for infants, children, and teens with spina bifida, spinal cord injuries and other spinal cord abnormalities.

“It is so rewarding to see patients, who before even being born received grave diagnoses, growing up healthy and strong,” Adzick continues in the release. “It’s important to be open and honest with families and to be clear that while fetal surgery is not a cure for spina bifida, it has the potential to drastically improve the patient’s life.”

[Source: Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia]