Minimally invasive fetal surgery for myelomeningocele: preliminary report from a single center

Giorgio Carrabba, Francesco Macchini, Isabella Fabietti, Luigi Schisano, Giulia Meccariello, Rolando Campanella, Giulio Bertani, Marco Locatelli, Simona Boito, Giuliana A. Porro, Lorenzo Gabetta, Odoardo Picciolini, Claudia Cinnante, Fabio Triulzi, Fabrizio Ciralli, Fabio Mosca, Denise A. Lapa, Ernesto Leva, Paolo Rampini, Nicola Persico

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVE: Recent trials have shown the safety and benefits of fetoscopic treatment of myelomeningocele (MMC). The authors' aim was to report their preliminary results of prenatal fetoscopic treatment of MMC using a biocellulose patch, focusing on neurological outcomes, fetal and maternal complications, neonatal CSF leakage, postnatal hydrocephalus, and radiological outcomes. METHODS: Preoperative assessment included clinical examination, ultrasound imaging, and MRI of the fetus. Patients underwent purely fetoscopic in utero MMC repair, followed by postoperative in utero and postnatal MRI. All participants received multidisciplinary follow-up. RESULTS: Five pregnant women carrying fetuses affected by MMC signed informed consent for the fetoscopic treatment of the defect. The mean MMC size was 30.4 mm (range 19-49 mm). Defect locations were L1 (2 cases), L5 (2 cases), and L4 (1 case). Hindbrain herniation and ventriculomegaly were documented in all cases. The mean gestational age at surgery was 28.2 weeks (range 27.8-28.8 weeks). Fetoscopic repair was performed in all cases. The mean gestational age at delivery was 33.9 weeks (range 29.3-37.4 weeks). After surgery, reversal of hindbrain herniation was documented in all cases. Three newborns developed signs of hydrocephalus requiring CSF diversion. Neurological outcomes in terms of motor level were favorable in all cases, but a premature newborn died due to CSF infection and sepsis. CONCLUSIONS: The authors' preliminary results suggest that fetoscopic treatment of MMC is feasible, reproducible, and safe for mothers and their babies. Neurological outcomes were favorable and similar to those in the available literature. As known, prematurity was the greatest complication.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E12
JournalNeurosurgical Focus
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1 2019


  • fetoscopy
  • hydrocephalus
  • MMC = myelomeningocele
  • MOMS = Management of Myelomeningocele Study
  • myelomeningocele
  • PROM = premature rupture of membranes
  • spina bifida

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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