Fetal surgery, a procedure in which surgery is performed on an unborn baby (fetus), is offered in some conditions to improve the long-term outcome after delivery.

For example, surgeons might perform open fetal surgery if a fetus has been diagnosed before birth (prenatally) with spina bifida.

In one type of spina bifida, myelomeningocele, an opening in the skin on the fetus' back causes part of the spinal cord and coverings to be exposed to amniotic fluid in the uterus. If your doctor finds your unborn baby has myelomeningocele, your doctor might suggest open fetal surgery to treat the condition.

In some cases, fetal surgery has better results than surgery after delivery.

Mayo Clinic's approach