Many babies with complex fetal conditions will require neurological care both before and after they’re born. Through a partnership between our fetal neurologists and fetal neurosurgeons, the Cincinnati Children’s Fetal Care Center offers services that can potentially be life-changing for you and your baby.

Our team is here to give you the seamless, compassionate care you need during a difficult time.

The close collaboration between our fetal neurologists and fetal neurosurgeons makes it easier for our experts to offer you the highest level of care. Through this partnership, they provide:

  • Outstanding fetal imaging from world-renown fetal neuroradiologists
  • A team approach to fetal counseling
  • Comprehensive, multidisciplinary care and treatment planning, and diagnosis-specific clinics for long-term care.

Counseling and Guidance

If your child is diagnosed with a brain malformation that requires both surgery and long-term care, our pediatric neurologists and neurosurgeons will meet with you. They will discuss what the diagnosis means, what treatment your child will need, and how it will impact your family now and in the future.

Many children will need additional help after surgery. Our team can explain how other therapies, such as physical therapy, speech therapy, language therapy and medications can help with your child’s development.

Prenatal Surgical Intervention for Spina Bifida

  • Currently, the Fetal Care Center offers prenatal surgery to treat spina bifida (myelomeningocele). It can be done as either open or minimally invasive surgery, and it must be performed between the 23rd and 26th week of pregnancy. Recovery requires a three- to five-day hospital stay and modified bed rest for the remainder of the pregnancy. The Fetal Care Center is one of a handful of facilities that offers both options.
  • Open surgery: This procedure is done with the mother under general anesthesia. Using fetal ultrasound for guidance, the neurosurgeon makes an incision in the uterus to reach the baby, removes any sac—if one is present—and returns the spinal cord to the spinal canal. They close all tissues over the defect and then close the uterus. A cesarean section would be required for delivery.
  • Fetoscopic repair: This procedure is also completed under general anesthesia. Neurosurgeons make small incisions on the mother’s abdomen into the uterus and use 2-mm instruments to repair the defect. A normal vaginal delivery is often possible after fetoscopic repair.

Having this surgery can significantly impact your baby’s quality of life. Children who undergo a prenatal spina bifida repair can experience these results:

  • Reduced need for shunts to treat hydrocephalus
  • Prevention of further nerve damage
  • Increased likelihood of walking