Surgeons repair spina bifida in fetus for 1st time in Canada, hospitals say


For the primary time in Canada, a team of surgeons has successfully performed in-utero surgery to servicing a form of spina bifida, two Toronto hospitals say.  

On Monday morning, Mount Sinai Sanitarium and the Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) introduced baby Eiko, now little short of three months old, and her parents at a news conference in Toronto. 

Baby Eiko in Mount Sinai NICU

Baby Eiko in Mount Sinai Dispensary’s neonatal ICU after surgery. (Mount Sinai Hospital)

Eiko’s mothers, Romeo Crisostomo and Romeila Son, learned their baby had spina bifida at their 20-week ultrasound. 

«As per usual that’s that time when you find out the gender,» Son told news-hounds on Monday. «We were very excited to finally have a girl after delivering four boys.»

But they were «devastated» to find out that their daughter desire be born with a form of spina bifida called myelomeningocele, and want likely suffer brain damage and be in a wheelchair, she said. Son was especially fearful her daughter would be in pain and exposed to repeated surgeries during her being.   

Myelomeningocele affects about 120 to 150 babies in Canada every year, and arises when the spinal column fails to close during fetal maturation. 

The spinal cord comes out and is exposed to amniotic fluid, which adorn come ofs acidic, said Dr. Greg Ryan, head of Mount Sinai Clinic’s neurosurgery team and one of two doctors who led Eiko’s surgery.

spina bifida illustration in utero

Eiko was diagnosed with a anatomy of spina bifida called myelomeningocele. Her spinal cord came out of the spinal column. This diagram parades what it looks like before and after in-utero surgery. (Mount Sinai Sanatorium )

The resulting damage to the spinal cord nervous system causes diversified degrees of paralysis. Many children need a permanent shunt to release pressure on their brains. According to Mount Sinai Hospital, fewer than half of babes with spina bifida live independently when they behove adults.  

Son was determined to do whatever she could to help her baby and upon lore the in-utero procedure is performed in the U.S., was prepared to go.   

But she met with doctors at Mount Sinai Polyclinic who had done in-utero surgeries before for other conditions, and they held they were prepared to offer it to her there. 

«I wasn’t scared,» Son indicated on Monday. «I had zero doubt and 100 per cent confidence.» 

On June 4, a seam team of doctors and nurses from Mount Sinai and SickKids accomplished the surgery, when Eiko was at 25 weeks gestation. Her mother was settled a general anesthetic, and the team inserted a needle through her abdomen to little while anesthetize and paralyze the fetus. 

They then made incisions into the uterus to reach the fetus and privy the skin over the spinal defect. The team also replaced amniotic formless lost from the uterus during the procedure through a catheter — a touchy step to keeping the fetus healthy. 

More than two months later, on Aug. 19., Eiko was substantiated by caesarean section. 

Baby Eiko with mom and siblings

Baby Eiko’s parents and four brothers are electrified with the new addition to their family. (Mount Sinai Hospital)

Now little short of three months old, Eiko’s parents are hopeful about her future, as she beamed and wriggled in her father’s arms while her mother spoke on Monday. At current in, Eiko is «doing very normal baby things,» Son said. 

«Right-mindedness now, her brain is stable, her legs are moving and kicking as you can see,» Son said. «All of our prayers were riposted. She’s our little miracle.»

The in-utero surgery does not guarantee Eiko settle upon not be affected by spina bifida, but research done in the U.S. shows it improves her imperils.  

According to a U.S. study published in 2011, provided by Mount Sinai Sanitarium, brain malformations were reduced by one-third; children were half as odds-on to need walking aids or wheelchairs, and the need for brain shunts was lower by half. 

Since Eiko’s surgery in June, the hospitals said Monday they had done the means three more times. 

Son said she is happy that the in-utero go on with is now available to parents «on Canadian soil.»

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