Purpose of review: To examine updates in fetal spina bifida surgical repair, as well as promising results emerging from translational medicine.
Recent findings: Although the Management of Myelomeningocele Study sponsored by the National Institutes of Health helped establish the neonatal benefits of prenatal spina bifida repair via uterine hysterotomy, also known as 'open' fetal surgery, fetoscopic approaches may yield better maternal and obstetric outcomes.
Summary: Spina bifida is a severe congenital malformation associated with significant neonatal and childhood morbidity and mortality. Although 'open' fetal spina bifida repair has become the standard prenatal surgical approach due to proven neonatal benefit, this approach is associated with significant maternal and obstetric risks. Recent developments from multidisciplinary clinical and translational research have highlighted the potential for novel fetoscopic surgical approaches to decrease maternal morbidity and reduce obstetric risks. Moreover, novel stem cell therapies coupled with in-utero medical approaches targeting the pathophysiological pathways associated with spina bifida are likely to make additional significant impact.