A team of doctors in the United States has made medical history by performing groundbreaking brain surgery on a baby who was still in the womb to treat a rare blood vessel abnormality inside the brain. According to CNN, the surgery was performed at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Boston Children’s Hospital, and it is the first of its kind in the world.
The condition that the baby, known as Baby Denver, had is called “Vein of Galen Malformation” (VOGM). This is a rare brain condition that occurs when the blood vessel that carries blood from the brain to the heart does not develop correctly. The malformation results in an overwhelming amount of blood that stresses the veins and heart and can lead to a cascade of health problems.
“Tremendous brain injuries and immediate heart failure after birth are the two big challenges,” said Dr. Darren Orbach, a radiologist at Boston Children’s Hospital and an expert in treating VOGM.
Typically, infants with VOGM are treated after they are born using a catheter to insert tiny coils to slow down blood flow. However, this treatment often happens too late, and as a result, many babies with this condition develop heart failure or brain damage and often do not survive.
“Despite advancements in care, 50 to 60 percent of all babies with this condition will get very sick immediately. And for those, it looks like there’s about a 40 percent mortality rate. About half of infants that survive experience severe neurological and cognitive issues,” Orbach said.
Baby Denver was growing normally inside her mother when doctors discovered she had this rare blood vessel abnormality inside the brain during a routine ultrasound. Her heart was struggling, and the malformation was getting dangerously large. Many babies with this condition develop heart failure or brain damage and often do not survive.
So, at 34 weeks of pregnancy, a team at Boston Children’s and the Brigham were able to repair her malformation while she was still in the uterus, using ultrasound guidance, a needle similar to those used for amniocentesis, and tiny coils that were placed directly into the abnormal blood vessels to stop blood flow.
This groundbreaking surgery has given hope to families around the world who may be facing a similar situation. It is a significant achievement for medical science, and it has the potential to change the lives of many people.
What is a vein of Galen malformation? According to Boston Children’s Hospital, a vein of Galen malformation (VOGM) is a type of rare blood vessel abnormality inside the brain. In VOGM, misshapen arteries in the brain connect directly with veins instead of connecting with capillaries, which helps slow blood flow. This causes a rush of high-pressure blood into the veins. This extra pressure in the veins can cause a number of problems.
This groundbreaking surgery represents a significant milestone in the field of medical science. The team of doctors has successfully performed a surgery that has never been done before and has given hope to families around the world who may be facing a similar situation. This achievement has the potential to change the lives of many people and is a testament to the power of medical innovation and human perseverance.