Surgeons at Children’s Hospital Boston have performed unprecedented fetal surgery to treat a rare brain malformation that could be life-threatening. The fetus, 34 weeks and 2 days gestational age, suffered from a vein of Galen malformation, a condition that affects one in 60,000 babies, where the cerebral arteries connect directly to the veins, increasing blood pressure. on the cardiovascular system and can cause heart failure, hypertension, and brain damage.
This condition is usually treated after birth by embolization, where the vein is blocked with specialized material. In this case, however, the entire procedure was performed intrauterinely guided by ultrasound, which prevented a drop in blood flow in the fetus. After birth, the baby did not require medication to treat heart failure or postnatal surgery to treat the malformation. Case reports were published in the medical journal Stroke.
The success of the procedure offers new hope for treating the condition before the risk of complications increases and reduces the risk of long-term brain damage, disability, or death. However, because this is the first patient in an ongoing clinical trial, the technique is not ready for widespread application. Further performance and monitoring of several fetal cases is needed to establish a clear pattern of improvement in neurological and cardiovascular outcomes.
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