Percutaneous fetoscopic spina bifida repair: effect on ambulation and need for postnatal cerebrospinal fluid diversion and bladder catheterization

D. A. Lapa*, R. H. Chmait, Y. Gielchinsky, M. Yamamoto, N. Persico, M. Santorum, M. M. Gil, L. Trigo, R. A. Quintero, K. H. Nicolaides

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Objective: A trial comparing prenatal with postnatal open spina bifida (OSB) repair established that prenatal surgery was associated with better postnatal outcome. However, in the trial, fetal surgery was carried out through hysterotomy. Minimally invasive approaches are being developed to mitigate the risks of open maternal–fetal surgery. The objective of this study was to investigate the impact of a novel neurosurgical technique for percutaneous fetoscopic repair of fetal OSB, the skin-over-biocellulose for antenatal fetoscopic repair (SAFER) technique, on long-term postnatal outcome. Methods: This study examined descriptive data for all patients undergoing fetoscopic OSB repair who had available 12- and 30-month follow-up data for assessment of need for cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) diversion and need for bladder catheterization and ambulation, respectively, from eight centers that perform prenatal OSB repair via percutaneous fetoscopy using a biocellulose patch between the neural placode and skin/myofascial flap, without suture of the dura mater (SAFER technique). Univariate and multivariate logistic regression analyses were used to examine the effect of different factors on need for CSF diversion at 12 months and ambulation and need for bladder catheterization at 30 months. Potential cofactors included gestational age at fetal surgery and delivery, preoperative ultrasound findings of anatomical level of the lesion, cerebral lateral ventricular diameter, lesion type and presence of bilateral talipes, as well as postnatal findings of CSF leakage at birth, motor level, presence of bilateral talipes and reversal of hindbrain herniation. Results: A total of 170 consecutive patients with fetal OSB were treated prenatally using the SAFER technique. Among these, 103 babies had follow-up at 12 months of age and 59 had follow-up at 30 months of age. At 12 months of age, 53.4% (55/103) of babies did not require ventriculoperitoneal shunt or third ventriculostomy. At 30 months of age, 54.2% (32/59) of children were ambulating independently and 61.0% (36/59) did not require chronic intermittent catheterization of the bladder. Multivariate logistic regression analysis demonstrated that significant prediction of need for CSF diversion was provided by lateral ventricular size and type of lesion (myeloschisis). Significant predictors of ambulatory status were prenatal bilateral talipes and anatomical and functional motor levels of the lesion. There were no significant predictors of need for bladder catheterization. Conclusion: Children who underwent prenatal OSB repair via the percutaneous fetoscopic SAFER technique achieved long-term neurological outcomes similar to those reported in the literature after hysterotomy-assisted OSB repair.

Translated title of the contributionReparación percutánea fetoscópica de la espina bífida: efecto sobre la deambulación y la necesidad de derivación de líquido cefalorraquídeo y cateterización vesical postnatales
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)582-589
Number of pages8
JournalUltrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Authors. Ultrasound in Obstetrics & Gynecology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of International Society of Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology.


  • artificial skin
  • biocellulose
  • cerebellar herniation
  • dura mater
  • fetoscopic surgery
  • fetoscopy
  • myelomeningocele
  • myeloschisis
  • prenatal therapy


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