Twins Conjoined At The Head Successfully Separated In Rare Surgery
Twin girls who were born conjoined at the head have been separated in an extraordinarily rare surgical feat.
The one-year-old girls, whose names haven’t been revealed, were born in August last year. The medical team at Soroka Medical Centre in Be’er Sheva, Israel, had been planning the operation even prior to their birth, but everyone was acutely aware of the hazards of a single slip.
Given the huge risk, separation surgery is believed to have taken place just 20 times. After a 12-hour ‘life or death’ operation, the twins could see each other for the first time.
It’s also the first time doctors in Israel have carried out the surgery. ‘When the nurses brought the babies together, newly separated, they looked at each other, made noises, and gently touched each other — it was beautiful. You could see the communication between them, and it was just so special,’ Dr. Isaac Lazar told The Times of Israel.
Lazar, the director of the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Soroka University Medical Centre, explained how ‘any wrong decision could have been the difference between life and death… it was so delicate, as the surgery was performed between major blood vessels in the babies’ heads, We all knew that any bleed could have catastrophic consequences’.
The procedure involved cranial reconstruction and scalp grafts, coming after doctors practised on sophisticated 3D virtual reality models of the twins. ‘It was complicated beyond anything one could imagine. The babies were connected by the back of their heads in an area where there was no skin and no skull. We had to take action to make them grow more skin,’ Lazar said.
In order to facilitate the growing of skin, inflatable silicone bags were inserted into adjacent parts of their heads. ‘Every few days, sterile water was injected into the bags, increasing their volume. This stretched the skin slowly,’ Lazar explained
While the twins will be physically affected by the early conjoined months of their lives, ‘with the right rehabilitation for their physical and cognitive development, we expect them to catch up with their milestones’, the doctor said.
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