Why the birth of this baby was a milestone for Cincinnati Children’s Hospital

Ten week old Flora Song doesn’t know yet, but surgery before she was born helped her have a better chance in life. Fetal surgery – the 100th surgery of its kind at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center – may just be the beginning of a multitude of neurological problems that could be resolved in this way.

Surgery on a fetus involves making an incision in the mother’s abdomen, opening the uterus, draining the amniotic fluid, and carefully inflating the uterus with heated and moistened carbon dioxide.

Pediatric neurosurgeon Charles Stevenson has been involved in each of Children’s 100 fetal spina bifida surgeries. He and his team strive to continuously make the process safer.

“The process is a little unique when you think about it,” he says. “For most operations there is only one patient. But for this operation there are two patients. But from an ethical point of view, only one of them can have direct benefit, right? We put two people at risk, but only one will benefit. ” and so it is always up to us to make the procedure as safe as possible for the mother herself. ”

Here is a simulation of how the operation is done:


Kelsey and her husband Henry Song were nervous before the operation in December, but after the Columbus couple learned that Cincinnati Children’s had corrected spina bifida in the womb for the past decade, “We just got very hopeful and had little doubts at the time making the right decision, “says Henry.

Correcting spina bifida before birth is the only neurological fetal surgery performed by Cincinnati Children’s. They may be able to operate on babies with hydrocephalus or fluid retention deep in the brain.

“There are now several centers around the world specifically designed to intervene during early pregnancy so that the hydrocephalus protects the brain for the remainder of the pregnancy,” says Stevenson.

Other technological advances are focused on improving fetal spina bifida surgery. In Orlando, Florida, doctors create 3D models to better plan the operation.

Despite all the difficulties, Flora’s mother Kelsey is looking forward to the future. “I’m very excited to have her here. She is fine and I look forward to her getting healthy and happy.”

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