Brain Surgery on a Foetus in Utero

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Full Name: Kannivelu Badrinath
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Brain Surgery on a Foetus in Utero

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Surgeons have operated on the brain of a baby in the womb to correct a potentially deadly malformed blood vessel.

Doctors were able to treat a defect known as vein of galen malformation (VGM) deep in the brain of the foetus. Babies with the condition often suffer heart failure and stroke-like symptoms within days of birth. The condition affects about 10 to 12 children in the UK each year, according to Great Ormond Street Hospital.

The procedure was carried out at Boston Children’s Hospital in Massachusetts. Six weeks after the surgery, the baby girl appears to be doing well.


The procedure took less than two hours and both the mother and foetus were given an anaesthetic. The child was born prematurely two days later.

“In our first treated case, we were thrilled to see that the aggressive decline usually seen after birth simply did not appear,” Dr Darren Orbach, the lead surgeon, said.

“We are pleased to report that at six weeks, the infant is progressing remarkably well, on no medications, eating normally, gaining weight and is back home. There are no signs of any negative effects on the brain.”

He added: “While this is only our first treated patient . . . this approach has the potential to mark a paradigm shift in managing vein of galen malformation.”

A report on the operation was published in the journal Stroke
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