Exstrophy of the bladder (bladder exstrophy)
Research & Innovation
At Boston Children’s Hospital, our care is informed by our research, and our discoveries in the laboratory strengthen the care we provide at each child's bedside.
Researchers are looking into ways to use tissue-engineering techniques to treat children with bladder exstrophy.
At Boston Children's, researchers participated in the successful rebuilding of the first complex organ, the bladder, from living tissue cultivated in the lab. They first took a few healthy cells from the patient’s bladder then grew new bladders to transplant into their young patients. Since the bladders were built from the patients’ own cells, there was no danger of an immune-system reaction.
Some of our other research projects include:
- early outcome of patients with bladder exstrophy following complete primary repair
- growth and development of the bladder following the repair
- imaging of the pelvis in patients with bladder exstrophy using Magnetic Resonance (MRI)
- need for bladder neck reconstruction in kids that undergo complete primary repair of exstrophy (CPRE)
- urodynamics (bladder function testing) and metabolic characteristics of patients with stomach-intestinal augments
- measuring the quality of life in kids and parents dealing with bladder exstrophy
Our researchers are studying antenatal (before birth) intervention, such as covering the exstrophy tissue or repairing the exstrophy itself in utero (while the baby is still in the womb). Investigational efforts in an animal model have proven the capability of taking a biopsy of the fetal bladder tissue, expanding this tissue in the laboratory and having it available for postnatal return to the newborn if deemed necessary.
Innovative surgical techniques
New and more effective surgical techniques and approaches are being developed to treat children with bladder exstrophy, including robotic surgery. This allows specially-trained surgeons to use a high-tech robot to perform a number of complex and delicate operations through very small surgical openings, which reduces a child’s pain, recovery time, hospital stay and scars. Learn more about robotic surgery.