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Canada’s first in-utero surgery to repair spina bifida a success


Courtesy of Mount Sinai Hospital

J-P Mauro - published on 11/15/17 - updated on 11/15/17

Successful US procedure has been replicated by our neighbors to the north. 3 month-old is now happy and healthy.

A surgery team from Mount Sinai Hospital and the Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) in Toronto have announced the first successful procedure done , in Canada, to repair damage to the spine caused by spina bifida in an unborn baby. The operation was completed without incident and the baby, Eiko, now three months old, is showing no signs of spinal damage.

Eiko’s parents received the troubling diagnosis during their 20-week sonogram. As they learned Eiko’s gender, they were informed that their daughter was afflicted with myelomeningocele, which would most likely leave her with brain damage and unable to walk. Myelomeningocele is the most serious variation of spina bifida, and occurs when the baby’s spine, spinal chord, and spinal canal don’t close properly as the baby develops.

CBCnews has the details of this historic operation from Mount Sinai:

On June 4, a joint team of doctors and nurses from Mount Sinai and SickKids performed the surgery, when Eiko was at 25 weeks gestation. Her mother was given a general anesthetic, and the team inserted a needle through her abdomen to temporarily anesthetize and paralyze the fetus. They then made incisions into the uterus to reach the fetus and close the skin over the spinal defect. The team also replaced amniotic fluid lost from the uterus during the procedure through a catheter — a critical step to keeping the fetus healthy.

While the procedure does not guarantee that Eiko will never suffer the affects of this debilitating disease, research from the US suggests that the surgery — *which has preceded the Canadians in their surgical success — will increase her chances of living a healthy life.

Eiko’s mother Romelia Son is relieved that the surgery went so splendidly. “Right now, her brain is stable, her legs are moving and kicking as you can see,” Son said. “All of our prayers were answered. She’s our little miracle.”

*Edited for clarification. Eiko’s surgery was a first for Canada.

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