In a medical breakthrough, a team of doctors in the US has successfully performed brain surgery on a baby still in the womb. The operation was carried out to treat a rare blood vessel abnormality in the brain, known as “Venus of Galen malformation” (VOGM), at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Boston Children’s Hospital.
The condition causes an abnormality in the blood vessel that carries blood from the brain to the heart, leading to an overwhelming amount of blood and stress on the veins and heart, which can lead to a cascade of health problems.
The traditional method of treating the condition involves catheterizing infants after birth to slow down blood flow. However, the treatment often happens too late, and many babies develop heart failure or brain damage and often don’t survive. Doctors performed the surgery on Baby Denver, who was growing normally in her mother’s womb until the abnormality was discovered during a routine ultrasound.
The team used ultrasound guidance, a needle similar to those used for amniocentesis, and tiny coils placed directly into the abnormal blood vessels to stop blood flow. The surgery was performed at 34 weeks of pregnancy, and the baby was saved from the dangers associated with the malformation.