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Spina Bifida Program: Coordinated and Compassionate Care

Following the publication of the NIH-sponsored trial results, Management of Myelomeningocele Study (MOMS), in the New England Journal of Medicine more than 18 months ago, The Fetal Center at Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital began a program offering open fetal surgery, in selected cases, for fetuses with myelomeningocele (MMC).

Spina Bifida SurgeryAt The Fetal Center, Patient consultation for a diagnosis of MMC involves a multidisciplinary team not only for evaluation but also for surgery.  The team draws on the expertise of multiple medical, surgical and support teams to offer a top quality experience for all families.

The Fetal Center team follows the same medical criteria used in the MOMS Trial when evaluating patients for possible open fetal repair.  Families spend two days at our Center meeting with the affiliated members of a multidisciplinary team, including the fetal specialists, clinical coordinator, neonatal team, pediatric neurosurgeon, pediatric surgeon and a representative of the Spina Bifida Clinic at Shriner’s Hospital. Patients also undergo an extensive evaluation including a comprehensive ultrasound, fetal MRI, and fetal echocardiography.

To ensure a smooth and comfortable experience, The Fetal Center has a team of concierge coordinators that assist with directions, parking, information, scheduling and guiding families throughout the hospital. After the full two-day consultation, patients who are candidates for surgery are encouraged to go home and weigh the pros and cons for open fetal surgery versus post natal repair in order to make  the best decision for their family, based on the information received.

Since the establishment of the Spina Bifida Program at The Fetal Center in early 2011, our team has evaluated more than 36 families and performed eight successful surgeries. One difference from the MOMS trial that has been helpful to our families is allowing them to return to their home community once their postoperative recovery is complete. This option exists as long as their medical condition is not complicated and their local physician is willing to care for them in their home community. We still recommend that families return to the Texas Fetal Center for their delivery to provide continuity of postnatal care.

For more information about open fetal surgery for fetal MMC repair or to refer a patient for an MMC evaluation, contact The Fetal Center at (832) 325-7288 or toll free at (888) 818-4818. View more information about Spina Bifida here, including patient care algorithms and an educational video.