First Open-Womb Spina Bifida Surgery at Medical City Dallas

Sarah Powell was 18 weeks pregnant when she found out that her unborn child had spina bifida. Spina bifida is a birth defect that is caused by the spinal cord and spine not forming properly, leaving a portion of the spine exposed in many cases. If not treated, this medical condition can cause various levels of disability ranging from lifelong bladder issues to paralysis. Operating on babies before they are born enhances motor skills and enhances the odds that the child will end up being able to walk. During the spina bifida surgery, a surgeon cuts into the mother’s abdomen, “exteriorizes” the uterus, cuts into it, and then operates on the fetus.

Sarah was referred to Timothy Cromblehome, MD, director of The Fetal Care Center at Medical City Children’s Hospital in Dallas. Dr. Crombleholme is one of only a handful of surgeons qualified nationwide to perform open fetal surgery. He is widely recognized for his successful surgical outcomes and talents. In addition to Dr. Crombleholme, a multi-disciplinary team of specialists, including specialized, highly trained fetal nurses, maternal-fetal specialist, and a pediatric neurosurgeon cared for both mother and son.

Uriah’s surgery, performed on June 25, 2018 at The Fetal Care Center at Medical City Children’s Hospital, was the first time that the open fetal surgery procedure has been performed in North Texas. The surgery went well and Uriah was born two months later on August 15. A few days after his birth, he began kicking his legs. This sign signifies early success from the leading-edge spina bifida surgery performed on him before he was born.

The Fetal Care Center at Medical City Children’s Hospital is one of only a handful centers in the world with the capability to perform the full range of fetal interventions. The Center is full of exceptionally skilled clinical experts who perform spina bifida surgery and others as well as helping to care for the babies as they grow up. Their main goal is to provide a much higher quality of life for children like Uriah for many years to come.

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