Implementation Process and Evolution of a Laparotomy-Assisted 2-Port Fetoscopic Spina Bifida Closure Program

Jena L. Miller, Mari L. Groves, Edward Ahn, David J. Berman, Jamie D. Murphy, Mara K. Rosner, Denise Wolfson, Eric B. Jelin, Sarah A. Korth, Amaris M. Keiser, Melissa Laurie, Sarah E. Millard, Aylin Tekes, Ahmet A. Baschat

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Prenatal closure of open spina bifida via open fetal surgery improves neurologic outcomes for infants in selected pregnancies. Fetoscopic techniques that are minimally invasive to the uterus aim to provide equivalent fetal benefits while minimizing maternal morbidities, but the optimal technique is undetermined. We describe the development, evolution, and feasibility of the laparotomy-assisted 2-port fetoscopic technique for prenatal closure of fetal spina bifida in a newly established program. Methods: We conducted a retrospective cohort study of women consented for laparotomy-assisted fetoscopic closure of isolated fetal spina bifida. Inclusion and exclusion criteria followed the Management of Myelomeningocele Study (MOMS). Team preparation involved observation at the originating center, protocol development, ancillary staff training, and surgical rehearsal using patient-matched models through simulation prior to program implementation. The primary outcome was the ability to complete the repair fetoscopically. Secondary maternal and fetal outcomes to assess performance of the technique were collected prospectively. Results: Of 57 women screened, 19 (33%) consented for laparotomy-assisted 2-port fetoscopy between February 2017 and December 2019. Fetoscopic closure was completed in 84% (16/19) cases. Over time, the technique was modified from a single- to a multilayer closure. In utero hindbrain herniation improved in 86% (12/14) of undelivered patients at 6 weeks postoperatively. Spontaneous rupture of membranes occurred in 31% (5/16) of fetoscopic cases. For completed cases, median gestational age at birth was 37 (range 27-39.6) weeks and 50% (8/16) of women delivered at term. Vaginal birth was achieved in 56% (9/16) of patients. One newborn had a cerebrospinal fluid leak that required postnatal surgical repair. Conclusion: Implementation of a laparotomy-assisted 2-port fetoscopic spina bifida closure program through rigorous preparation and multispecialty team training may accelerate the learning curve and demonstrates favorable obstetric and perinatal outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)603-610
Number of pages8
JournalFetal Diagnosis and Therapy
Issue number8
StatePublished - Oct 1 2021


  • 3D printing
  • Fetal surgery
  • Fetoscopy
  • Myelomeningocele
  • Partial carbon dioxide insufflation
  • Patient-matched model
  • Simulation
  • Surgical rehearsal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Embryology


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