A team of American doctors performed breakthrough brain surgery on a baby who is still in the womb to treat a rare abnormality of blood vessels inside the brain, according to CNN.
This rare brain condition is known as “Galen’s Venus malformation” and the operation was performed at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Boston Children’s Hospital.
The condition occurs when the blood vessel that carries blood from the brain to the heart does not develop properly. The malformation results in an overwhelming amount of blood stressing the veins and heart and can lead to a cascade of health problems, the outlet reported.
“Huge brain damage and heart failure immediately after birth are the two big challenges,” said Dr. Darren Orbach, a radiologist at Boston Children’s Hospital and an expert in treating VOGM. CNN.
Giving details of the complication, he said typically infants are treated after birth using a catheter to insert tiny coils to slow blood flow. However, treatment often comes too late.
“Despite advances in care, “50-60% of all babies with this condition will become very ill immediately. And for those, there seems to be a death rate of about 40%. About half of infants who survive have severe neurological and cognitive problems,” Orbach said.
According CBS News, Baby Denver was growing normally inside her mother when, during a routine ultrasound, doctors discovered she had this rare blood vessel abnormality inside her brain. Many babies with this condition develop heart failure or brain damage and often do not survive. In fact, Denver’s heart was struggling and the malformation was getting dangerously large.
Thus, at 34 weeks of pregnancy, a team from Boston Children’s and the Brigham was able to repair her malformation while she was still in the womb, using ultrasound guidance, a needle similar to those used for amniocentesis and tiny coils placed directly into abnormal blood vessels to stop blood flow.
What is a venous malformation of Galen?
According to Boston Children’s Hospital, a Vein of Galen’s Malformation (VOGM) is a rare type of blood vessel abnormality inside the brain. In VOGM, distorted arteries in the brain connect directly to veins instead of connecting to capillaries, which helps slow blood flow. This causes a high pressure blood rush through the veins. This extra pressure in the veins can cause a number of problems.