Scientists performed the first ever surgery on the brain of an unborn child

Dmitry IvancheskulLife

Doctors in the United States performed the first brain surgery on an unborn child. Although it was the first surgery of its kind, it was successful, and the baby was born without any health complications.

This is according to an article published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Stroke. The team from Brigham and Women's Hospital and Boston Children's Hospital successfully treated an aggressive vascular malformation (the formation of clusters of abnormal vessels of different shapes and sizes), which in most cases leads to the death of infants after delivery.

The fetus was diagnosed with intrauterine Galen vein malformation. This is a rare condition that occurs when deformed arteries in the brain connect directly to veins instead of capillaries.

This abnormality results in slow blood flow, which can cause blood to flow into the veins at high pressure. This, in turn, can interfere with the adequate outflow of blood from the infant's brain and lead to brain injury or significant loss of brain tissue.

Now, the standard of care for such abnormalities is to treat newborns after birth. But the problem is that the brain damage has already occurred by then, and in most cases, such infants do not live longer than a few days.

Experts performed an intrauterine embolization of a fetus with Galen vein malformation at 34 weeks and 2 days gestation. The infant was born six weeks ago and, doctors assure us, is developing very well.

"We are happy to report that now, at six weeks of age, the baby is developing very well, taking no medications, eating normally, gaining weight, and has already gone home. There are no signs of any adverse effects on the brain," said study lead author Darren Orbach, M.D., co-director of the Center for Cerebrovascular Surgery and Interventions at Boston Children's Hospital and associate professor of radiology at Harvard Medical School.

He encourages continued research in this area, however, because there is only one success story of such a treatment.

"It's very important to continue research to evaluate safety and efficacy in other patients, this approach could mark a paradigm shift in the treatment of Galen vein malformation, where we eliminate the malformation before birth and prevent heart failure before it occurs, rather than trying to correct it after birth," Orbach stressed.

If this treatment is proven successful in new studies, it could be adopted as the new standard, he said. It would reduce the risk of long-term brain damage, disability, or death among such infants.

"Despite decades of improvements in postnatal embolization techniques and the establishment of expert, specialized consultation centers around the world, fetuses diagnosed with Galen vein malformation continue to have high mortality and high rates of severe neurological impairment," Orbach said.

Correcting the malformation in utero can prevent brain injury and often rapid deterioration after birth.

Previously, OBOZREVATEL told about what became known about the birth of a child who was conceived with the help of a robot fertilizer.

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