Tuesday, February 10, 2004

High-profile doctor to head fetal center

By Tim Bonfield
The Cincinnati Enquirer

A high-profile doctor has been recruited to run a new fetal surgery service - the Midwest's first such center.

Dr. Timothy Crombleholme, formerly with the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, will lead the new Fetal Care Center of Cincinnati.

His involvement allows the center to become a principal site for a $7 million federal research study of fetal surgery techniques.

Plans to launch the center were announced 10 months ago.

Fetal surgery involves the rare and high-tech process of operating on a developing baby before it is born.

Conditions that can require fetal surgery include spina bifida, twins suffering life-threatening blood flow complications, fluid on the brain, and dangerous abdominal hernias.

Until now, parents of developing babies facing such conditions most commonly traveled to Philadelphia or San Francisco for diagnosis and treatment.

Crombleholme was a co-founder of fetal surgery programs in Boston in 1993 and Philadelphia in late 1995.

Moving to Cincinnati offered him the "chance to build something from scratch," Crombleholme said.

In Cincinnati, the first fetal surgery could be performed within two months. As it grows, the center likely will do 10 to 20 full-blown surgeries a year, but it also expects to perform diagnostic services and non-surgical treatments for hundreds of families a year, Crombleholme said.

The fetal care center is a joint effort of Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Good Samaritan Hospital and the University of Cincinnati. During the next five years, officials expect to spend as much as $10 million on special equipment, doctors, nurses, genetic counselors and social workers.


E-mail tbonfield@enquirer.com

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