'First of its kind' surgery saves baby born with intestines outside body

The girl was born with a very rare congenital defect in the development of the muscles of the abdominal wall called omphalocele.

January 4, 2017 22:06
2 minute read.
Israeli medicine

Father holding his baby, who was born with intestines outside body and received a lifesaving procedure at Hadassah University Medical Center in Jerusalem’s Ein Kerem. (photo credit: HADASSAH UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER)


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A baby girl whose intestines were seen in an ultrasound scan to be outside her body, and whose parents were urged to have an abortion, is alive and well after a unique, Israeli-designed procedure was performed after her birth at Hadassah University Medical Center in Jerusalem’s Ein Kerem.

The hospital maintained on Wednesday that the complicated operation – performed right after her birth – was the “first of its kind” in the world.

The girl was born with a very rare congenital defect in the development of the muscles of the abdominal wall called omphalocele. In such cases, the intestines and sometimes the liver and other organs, remain outside of the abdomen in a sac.

The baby’s father, Ahmed (whose last name is being withheld to protect privacy), said that a hospital in the center of the country recommended an abortion “and described for us a horrific scenario if she were born.” He said this as he held the happy baby in his arms. “We didn’t want to abort. We had heard of a similar case of parents who decided not to abort a defective baby but get treatment at Hadassah, so we decided to go there.”

Doctors had performed amniocentesis to find out if the fetus suffered from defective genes, but found none. Dr. Dan Arbell, a senior pediatric surgeon said, “with a little luck,” she could be treated and be healthy.

At delivery, the baby was found to have a big hole in her abdomen from which her amniotic sac with her intestines were hanging, said Dr.

Morris Topaz, a plastic surgeon in Ra’anana who invented the new technology that was meant for plastic surgery. It was the first time he had used it for a congenital defect in a baby.

The newborn’s intestines were put into a special cone-like container called a “silo” that make it possible to hold them together and put them in place. Dr. Vadim Kapoler, a senior pediatric surgeon at Hadassah, arranged the intestines in their proper place and used clamps and clips to close the abdominal opening, instead of the usual synthetic patch. Every few days, they changed the location of the intestines, stretching the skin over a period of three weeks.

Arbell said that the use of this new device for such an operation has not been reported in the world’s medical literature, but it saved the baby a much more complicated procedure involving plastic surgery with a synthetic patch.

The baby’s parents Ahmed and Tamam thanked all the staff. “Their baby now feels well, her abdomen looks good and she is eating well.

There is no reason why she should not have a full and healthy life,” said Arbell. The baby was taken home by her parents this week. “The difficult time is behind us. We had some scary moments, when her blood pressure and heartbeat fell, but we stabilized her,” Arbell said.

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