Doctors conduct first-ever brain surgery on baby in womb

DOCTORS have successfully conducted surgery for a baby in the womb to correct a malformation in its brain.

A team of ten doctors at the Boston Children’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital conducted the procedure recently.

Daily Mail reported that the child was diagnosed with the Vein of Galen Malfunction, which is a condition that occurs when the circulatory system does not properly form in the pregnancy’s first trimester.

According to Boston Children’s Hospital, a Vein of Galen Malformation (VOGM) is a rare blood vessel abnormality inside the brain. 

“In VOGM, misshapen arteries in the brain connect directly with veins instead of connecting with capillaries, which help slow blood flow. This causes a rush of high-pressure blood into the veins.”

The hospital notes that the extra pressure in the veins can cause many problems, including the rush of blood toward the heart and lungs, which forces the heart to work overtime to get blood to the rest of the body. This can lead to congestive heart failure in some infants.

Blood pressure in the arteries from the heart to the lungs can also rise, causing a serious condition called pulmonary hypertension.

Known as a rare disease, experts differ on its incidence, with some saying it occurs in one in a million children. It affects both genders.

The probability of survival is usually very low for affected children, with most having about a 30 per cent chance of dying before clocking 11.

Doctors who performed surgery on the child cut into its mum’s womb when the foetus was 34 weeks, and opened up her uterus, then the child’s skull, before making the corrections.

The surgery involved planting a piece of fat near the artery which would restrict blood flow.

Though the procedure was successful, the doctors induced the mother two days after because the surgery affected the tissue surrounding the child. The delivery was done with limited complications.

“Using an MRI, doctors identified an overly wide falcine sinus — a curved vein in the brain that drains the artery. This tells surgeons there was a 99 per cent chance that the malformation would occur…Then, using ultrasound to pinpoint the correct spot, they cut into her uterine wall,” Daily Mail reported.



    Both mother and child are now in their home doing fine two weeks after the surgery, according to the surgery report published Wednesday in the American Heart Association’s journal Stroke

    The UK’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will be working with researchers to check the surgery’s safety and the possibility of expanding it for similar conditions.

    One of the doctors at Boston Childen Hospital, Darren Orbach, a surgeon, described the procedure as having the potential to mark a paradigm shift in managing the Vein of Galen Malformation.

    He said, “We were thrilled to see that the aggressive decline usually seen after birth simply did not appear. ‘We are pleased to report that at six weeks, the infant is progressing remarkably well, on no medications, eating normally, gaining weight and is back home. There are no signs of any negative effects on the brain.”

    Marcus bears the light, and he beams it everywhere. He's a good governance and decent society advocate. He's The ICIR Reporter of the Year 2022 and has been the organisation's News Editor since September 2022. Contact him via email @ [email protected].

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