The UK’s first conference dedicated to prenatal surgery in spina bifida will soon be bringing specialists around the world together to discuss this important treatment option.
The first event of its kind for professionals in the UK will take place on Tuesday 7th June at the Emeleus Lecture Theatre, Queen’s University, Belfast.
The study day will consider the benefits and risks for mother and baby of open pre-natal surgery, fetoscopic, and standard postnatal surgery, as well as ethical aspects and implications for future policy and research.
The event is being hosted by Shine, a charity which offers a range of services for people with spina bifida and hydrocephalus, and brings together more than 120 delegates from across Europe, including obstetricians, paediatricians, neurosurgeons, nurses, midwives, allied professionals and Shine’s own specialist team.
It was out of concern to ensure that newly diagnosed families have a full range of treatment options available and understand the benefits and risks involved, that co-event organisers, Cathy McKillop, Dr Stephen Ong, and Dr Jackie Cartmill came up with the idea of arranging the study day.
“There have been amazing advances in prenatal surgery over the decade, bringing about new approaches in prevention and treatment, yet there is still a lot to learn. We are delighted by the international interest this event has generated and the quality of speakers involved.” – Cathy McKillop, Shine’s Northern Ireland Director
Dr Ong (pictured below), an obstetrics consultant at the Royal Jubilee Maternity Hospital, Belfast, said: “Pre-natal surgery has been available in some European countries and the USA, but is not available yet in the UK. This conference will give us enough time to consider the different issues, benefits and risks associated, so that we have clarity when advising newly diagnosed families.”
Dr Ong continued: “If the consensus is that pre-natal surgery should be a recommended option in the UK, then this may influence the thinking of commissioners in ensuring that the treatment is available here.”
The conference is sponsored by MDI Medical, The Perinatal Trust Fund (NI), Public Health Agency (NI) and Shine.