Cleveland Clinic Announces First Successful In-Utero Surgery on Fetus With Spina Bifida

Jun 21, 2019

Doctors at the Cleveland Clinic performed Ohio’s first successful in-utero surgery.

Surgeons operated on a fetus diagnosed with spina bifida, a defect that affects the development of the spine which can lead to brain damage.

Dr. Darrell Cass led the surgical team. He has performed more than 100 fetal surgeries at other hospitals.

“This operation went as well as it possibly could. So, the baby had what we call reversal of the Chiari malformation, which is a marker of a successful repair,” Cass said.

Cass says the surgery does not cure spina bifida, but gives it the child the best chances of being able to walk independently and avoid a buildup of fluid around the brain.

The baby was born at 36 ½ weeks and nearly to term, which Cass said is an excellent result following fetal surgery.