Mark R. Bitner, MD

Dr. Mark R. Bitner, a Tanner Clinic obstetrician and gynecologist, has been recognized by the community and his medical colleagues for his excellence as a physician and surgeon.

In 2012, Dr. Bitner received the “Dr. Robert Bitner Award,” which is presented to a physician on the staff of Davis Hospital & Medical Center who best exemplifies the characteristics of a kind, thoughtful and compassionate physician who truly cares about patients and staff members.

The board-certified physician comes from a family with a long medical history at Tanner Clinic. His father, Dr. Robert Bitner, was one of early supporters of Tanner Clinic. And his son, Dr. John Bitner, is a plastic surgeon at Tanner Clinic.

A graduate of Weber State University in Ogden, Dr. Bitner went on to earn his M.D. from the Autonomous University of Juarez, Mexico. He completed his residency in obstetrics and gynecology at Creighton University, Omaha, Nebraska.

Dr. Bitner, who has delivered more than 4,000 babies, chose this specialty because, he said, “I’ve always liked the happy part of medicine, and that’s what OB is. You’re delivering babies, so it’s satisfying not only emotionally but spiritually.”

Today, he is a specialized and experienced vaginal surgeon performing minimally invasive hysterectomies and other procedures. He has written about and repaired countless cases of pelvic organ prolapse. He also specializes in bladder and pelvic surgery, infertility and high-risk pregnancies.

Dr. Bitner and his wife Lois are the parents of six children and grandparents of 20-plus. In his spare time, you’ll find him golfing, exercising or riding horses.

What patients are saying about Dr. Bitner

“I love Dr. Bitner so much! I wish I would’ve found him before I was done having babies. He always takes time to talk with me and really find out how I’m doing. I really appreciate that. And let’s not forget about his sweet amazing nurse, Lynette.” – Britnee on Facebook, July 6, 2015

“Dr. Bitner is an amazing person and an amazing doctor. Love this guy. Tanner Clinic is lucky to have him.”   —  Brook on Facebook, April 11, 2014

“This man saved my life five years ago during the delivery of my son. Forever indebted to him.”   —  Rachel on Facebook, April 10, 2014

“I love this doctor. He is a friend as well as a doctor who shows great concern for his patients.”   —  Katie on Facebook, April 10, 2014

In the Media

In this news interview on the Jan. 22, 2015, episode of Fox 13’s HealthFix, Dr. Bitner discusses how seasonal changes can affect our moods.

Prenatal Genetic Testing or Not? A Difficult Choice for Parents

Should expecting parents undergo genetic and screening tests? That’s an issue on which Dr. Mark Bitner has gone back and forth over the years.

Over his nearly 30 years as an OB/GYN at Tanner Clinic, he’s seen the benefits of learning your unborn child has a potentially dangerous condition.

For instance, he said, if prenatal screening indicates gastroschisis — basically a hernia that’s caused a hole in the abdominal wall — then the parents can prepare to deliver at Primary Children’s Hospital with a pediatric surgeon standing near.

But, he’s also observed plenty of times when a family worried for months after genetic testing showed positive for a chromosomal defect — a test that was later found to be a false positive.

Like most other medical testing, the results can be wrong, Dr. Bitner said. There’s a 10% false positive rate and a .1% false negative rate.

“I had two patients,” he explains. “One had a normal test and yet had a Down’s baby. The other mom had an abnormal test and had a normal baby.” (As a side note: The mom who delivered the normal baby wanted nothing to do with genetic testing during her next pregnancy.)

Tests are a personal decision

The choice to undergo such testing is a highly personal decision, said Dr. Bitner. However, he’ll strongly recommend it for certain women, such as new mothers over age 36.

And, he may question the motivation. If the parents are not prepared to abort the fetus and believe that the baby should be carried to term because of personal, moral or religious beliefs, then, he said, “the thought is: why do it if you can’t change anything.”

Prenatal screening comes in two forms: Blood screening and invasive methods such amniocentesis, which are more effective at detecting chromosomal problems.

Prenatal screenings don’t tell everything

Blood screenings do not diagnose. The results merely indicate whether a woman is at higher risk for delivering a child with an abnormality.

All babies are at some risk for a chromosomal abnormality, such as Down’s syndrome, even if a mother is very young. However, the risk does gradually increase as a woman ages, said Dr. Bitner. The normal risk for a woman over 35 delivering a Down’s child is 1 in 370; the tests results might indicate, for instance, that the risk is higher, such as one in 300 or one in 50, he said.

Even then, the blood screening only signals the need for followup by a perinatal specialist.

Knowing versus not knowing

Parents often undergo genetic testing because they want to know if their unborn child is free of trisomies — chromosomal defects, he said. “Some families want to know beforehand so they’re prepared” psychologically, socially, financially and medically, he said. Understandedly, he does a lot of counseling in this area.

But the invasive tests of amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling, which require a long needle to draw amniotic fluid from the fetal sac, slightly increase the risk of miscarriage. As a result, many of his patients refuse it; those parents, he adds, will say, “‘We’ll just deal with the not knowing’.”

A new blood test just released last year, Maternit21, is reportedly sensitive enough to pick up chromosomal defects without the more invasive tests.

Leaky Bladder: How to Manage Incontinence

The best thing about pelvic organ prolapse — the cause of most leaky bladders — is the happy patient once it’s been repaired, says Dr. Mark Bitner, who specializes in prolapse/bladder suspension surgery.

One patient, for instance wrote this note: “It’s been six months since I had my bladder done and I jumped on the trampoline with my kids today. Just thought you’d like to know.” That kind of happy.

In Utah, where we have more children, incontinence is not necessarily an older woman’s issue. Stress incontinence, the most common type of incontinence in women, is caused by the mechanics of vaginal childbirth. You’ll recognize this condition by the little leak that occurs when sneezing or coughing.

After having performed more than 2,000 bladder suspension surgeries, Dr. Bitner has written a definitive and helpful guide that can be downloaded as a PDF: How to Manage Incontinence – Learn the symptoms and what to do about them.

— Tanner Clinic staff