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Fetal Surgery Coming of Age

Fri, 06/08/2012 - 7:12am

(PRNewswire-USNewswire) Maternal-fetal care is entering a new era. Highly sophisticated surgical teams now repair spina bifida and other birth defects in the womb, place fetal shunts to treat life-threatening congenital conditions, and perform minimally invasive procedures in the mother's uterus to treat complications in fetal twins.

These are examples of the still-emerging, complex field of fetal surgery, which has previously yielded relatively little published research on best practices in nursing care. "Nurses are in a crucial position to care for mothers, fetuses and newborns as fetal interventions expand," said Susan R. Miesnik, MSN, CRNP, the guest editor of the In Focus section of the May/June 2012 Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic & Neonatal Nursing.

Miesnik is a perinatal nurse practitioner at the Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, one of a handful of comprehensive fetal surgery programs in the world. Miesnik and her colleagues in the field review the latest nursing practices in four articles. The Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment was in the spotlight in as one of the leading centers that reported highly encouraging results from the MOMS trial, the landmark, seven-year-long, federally-sponsored clinical trial for fetal surgery for spina bifida.

"As the field of fetal medicine continues to advance, more and more babies are being treated before they are born, and as pioneers in the field, it is crucial that we share this important information with our nursing colleagues across the country and around the world," added Miesnik. The Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment at CHOP is an internationally recognized leader in fetal surgery and fetal care, offering a comprehensive breadth of services, including fetal therapy, to support patients from prenatal evaluation through delivery, postnatal care, and long-term follow-up.

Established in 1995, the Center has welcomed more than 12,000 expectant parents and received referrals from all 50 states and more than 50 countries. The Center has performed over 800 fetal surgeries, including complex open procedures for birth defects such as spina bifida; less invasive fetoscopic or ultrasound-guided surgeries for conditions such as twin-twin transfusion syndrome; and specialized coordinated delivery approaches for babies that require surgical intervention while still on maternal-placental life support (EXIT delivery).

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