Medical City Dallas February 18, 2019

Spina bifida surgery marks hospital's second open fetal procedure

Amari Martinez is nearly a month old and thriving after a successful surgery for spina bifida was performed when she was still in her mother’s womb at the Fetal Care Center at Medical City Children’s Hospital. The Tyler baby was the second open fetal surgery performed at the hospital.

At 15 weeks pregnant, Alexandrea Campos began having stomach pain. Subsequent tests showed that her unborn baby had spina bifida and hydrocephalus. Spina bifida is a birth defect caused when the spine and spinal cord do not form properly, in many cases leaving a portion of the spine exposed. Without medical intervention, the condition causes differing levels of disability, which can include paralysis and lifelong bladder issues. Hydrocephalus is a condition in which excess fluid builds up within the ventricles of the brain and can cause brain damage or death, if left untreated.

Alexandrea was referred to Timothy Crombleholme, MD, medical director of the Fetal Care Center at Medical City Children’s Hospital in Dallas. Dr. Crombleholme is one of only a handful of surgeons nationwide qualified to perform open fetal surgery and he is widely recognized for his skill and successful surgical outcomes.

A multi-disciplinary team of specialists cared for Amari and Alexandrea including a maternal-fetal specialist, pediatric neurosurgeon and specialized, highly trained fetal nurses. This complex open fetal surgery was performed on October 18, 2018 and should help mitigate lifelong disabilities caused by spina bifida.

“The team at the Fetal Care Center at Medical City Children’s Hospital is focused on providing comprehensive care for children before and after birth and ensuring the best outcomes possible for our mothers and babies,” said Timothy Crombleholme, MD, medical director of the Fetal Care Center at Medical City Children’s Hospital. “Open fetal surgery to repair spina bifida is a multi-disciplinary procedure that can greatly improve babies’ outcomes by significantly reducing the need for a medical device to relieve pressure on the brain caused by fluid accumulation.”

The Fetal Care Center at Medical City Children’s Hospital is one of only a few centers worldwide with the capability to perform the full range of fetal interventions.