Results from the seven-year trial, Management of Myelomeningocele Study (MOMS), which were published in the Feb. 9 online issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, show that babies who receive in utero repair of myelomeningocele, a severe form of spina bifida, have an increased chance of walking and are less likely to suffer from hydrocephalus (build-up of fluid on the brain that requires a shunt).
John Brock III, M.D., surgeon-in-chief for the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, and principal investigator for the Vanderbilt site of MOMS, says Vanderbilt’s experience and multi-service commitment makes it one of only a few centers prepared to begin this intervention immediately.
“I think the critical factor in offering this surgery is the fact that we have a team in place that understands the process from beginning to end,” he says. “It’s a multi-specialty effort, and our emphasis is taking care of the whole family, from the first consultation and the explanation of the risks and benefits, to the surgery and the post-surgical care for both the mother and the infant after birth.”
Results from the MOMS Study mirror a 1999 article authored by Noel Tulipan, M.D., director of Pediatric Neurosurgery, and the Vanderbilt team, which was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Brock says Vanderbilt is fortunate to have the majority of the team in place that has overseen this project from the very beginning, including Tulipan, who has performed more fetal repair of spina bifida surgeries than anyone in the world.
In addition, Brock says, we have the same anesthesiologists and nursing staff, along with the same outstanding neonatal care, pioneered by William Walsh, M.D., professor of Pediatrics and director of Nurseries at Vanderbilt. Kelly Bennett, M.D., the maternal-fetal specialist who performs the maternal portion of the surgery, will lead the Maternal Fetal Medicine program.
The new Fetal Surgery for Spina Bifida Program will be housed in the Junior League Fetal Center at Vanderbilt. The phone number for information about fetal surgery to repair myelomeningocele at Vanderbilt is (877) 875-3737 or in the Nashville area (615) 875-4500. The Vanderbilt website for information on fetal surgery, including the spina bifida repair is: http://www.childrenshospital.vanderbilt.org/fetalsurgery
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