AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 26, Number 2, 2017

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Candidates for Fetal Spina Bifida Surgery May be Identified Through Brain Scans

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Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco recently published a study in the Journal of Neurosurgery: Pediatrics found that fetuses with enlarged ventricles are more likely to require a second surgery to relieve a life-threatening build-up of pressure within the brain, and later discovered that surgically correcting the spinal defect while the fetus was still in the womb can greatly reduce the need to divert fluid away from the ventricles to relieve hydrocephalus. “Currently, we offer this surgery after extensive counseling and evaluation, and patients have to weigh the risks of open fetal surgery versus the potential benefit that is seen in some babies but not others. This is a grueling decision for parents to have to make because the flipside of doing the surgery is the risk of prematurity,” said the study’s co-author. This is the first study of its kind to provide direction about the likelihood of benefitting from the surgery based on the findings on prenatal scans. To read more about this study, click here.

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