Saturday, July 13, 2024
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US doctors perform world’s first operation on the brain of an unborn child

In the United States of America, surgeons performed the first operation on a fetus in the womb.

Doctors from the Boston Children’s Hospital performed an embolization to treat a rare malformation of the child’s brain, Science Alert writes.

Unborn baby Denver Coleman had a vascular anomaly – a malformation of the vein of Galen, one of the large blood vessels of the skull, which threatened with fatal complications after birth.

Malformation of the vein of Galen occurs in about one in 60,000 babies. This is a rare congenital disease – when shunts occur in the circulatory system between arteries and veins, due to which blood is discharged under high pressure directly into the veins, bypassing the capillary bed of the medulla.

Thanks to a unique procedure, the baby was born prematurely, but without complications.

“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,” said Dr Darren Orbach, a radiologist at Boston Children’s Hospital and expert in VOGM treatment.

Orbach and colleagues are currently conducting a clinical trial to evaluate the possibility of treating this condition before birth. The mother of baby Denver [their first patient], Kenyatta Coleman was at the 34th week of pregnancy. Doctors used ultrasound to perform the embolization procedure. The procedure led to a premature rupture of the membranes in the uterus, however, when the child was born, his cardiovascular system was working normally.

Kenyatta Coleman said her fourth pregnancy was going well until at 30 weeks pregnant a doctor said the baby had brain problems and an enlarged heart.

The baby’s parents learned that Brigham Women’s Hospital and Boston Children’s Hospital were conducting clinical trials and that surgery could be attempted before the baby was born.

Since the birth was premature, the baby girl had to spend several weeks in the neonatal intensive care unit, during which doctors continued to monitor the state of her brain. At the same time, the baby didn’t need additional support or surgery. Doctors saw no signs of neurological damage, fluid accumulation or bleeding, so the mother and child were discharged and sent home.

“While this is only our first treated patient and it is vital that we continue the trial to assess the safety and efficacy in other patients, this approach has the potential to mark a paradigm shift in managing vein of Galen malformation where we repair the malformation prior to birth and head off the heart failure before it occurs, rather than trying to reverse it after birth,” Orbach said.

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