This procedure was developed by Dr CG Xiao, a surgeon in China, initially for spinal cord injury but subsequently for spina bifida also. In the surgery, the spinal nerves are rerouted and if successful, the nerves regenerate (over a period of 6-24 months), creating a new nerve pathway that can control bladder emptying.
Dr Xiao has performed approximately 2000 of these surgeries in China and reports excellent results [apparently more than 80% do not need a catheter to empty their bladder after the nerve regeneration occurs]. In Dr Xiao's patients, those that regained bladder function also regained bowel function.
In the United States , a team at Beaumont Hospital, Detroit, Michigan have performed a pilot study of the procedure in collaboration with Dr Xiao. They have operated on 9 children with spina bifida, and their preliminary results suggest an improvement in some of the children. A second team in Tampa, Florida, have designed a study to look at the outcomes of the Xiao procedure in more detail.
In Bristol, we are very interested in this procedure, but want to get some more accurate information about outcomes. We’re concerned to see the latest information appearing on the internet relating to Xiao’s results and his recent behaviour [see News]. We are waiting to see what results are produced by the team in Michigan prior to deciding if this is a procedure that should be offered in the UK. Unfortunately, the recent events in China call into question the reliability of Xiao’s own data, making the Beaumont outcomes even more important.