University College London (UCL) has reported the first successful in-utero correction of spina bifida in the UK. The surgery was performed by a surgical team from University College London Hospitals (UCLH) and Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH), in collaboration with University Hospitals Leuven in Belgium.
It is understood that the spinal deformity was discovered at the 20-week scan. The surgery was performed in October 2018. The baby was born on 1 April 2019, and is reported to be healthy with no sign of spina bifida at two weeks post-birth.Kidney and bladder function were normal, with normal hip function and full lower limb sensation.
The team has now conducted 15 such surgeries, five in the United Kingdom and 10 in Leuven, Belgium. Based on the success of the procedure, NHS England has confirmed that in-utero spina bifida surgery will soon be routinely available for NHS patients.
UCL and GOSH researchers are working with engineers at Wellcome / EPSRC Centre for Interventional and Surgical Sciences (WEISS), King’s College London and KU Leuven to develop new foetoscopic tools and imaging techniques to support prenatal therapy. The project called GIFT-Surg will optimise a less invasive foetoscopic repair technique.