For the first time ever, surgery was performed on a fetus's brain while it was inside the womb, and the procedure was documented in a recent study.
The study, published in the peer-reviewed journal Stroke on Thursday, documented the process that doctors took to repair a malformed blood vessel in the fetus's brain. The procedure was done while the woman was pregnant at 34 weeks.
The baby ended up being born in March and she did not need any medications or treatments since she was discharged, the study stated, where doctors described the process as a "first-of-its-kind procedure." The trial was done in order to find a new treatment for vein of Galen malformation (VOGM), which is described by the Boston Children's Hospital as a "type of rare blood vessel abnormality inside the brain" where the "misshapen arteries in the brain connect directly with veins."
Left untreated, VOGM can cause blood to rush towards the heart and lungs which forces the heart to work harder to get blood to the rest of the body. It also causes high blood pressure flow which may cause congestive heart failure and high blood pressure in the arteries of the lungs.
Process in treating VOGM
Doctors from Boston Children's Hospital and the Brigham and Women's Hospital collaborated on a trial to treat VOGM for the fetus, which will include around 20 babies, and this procedure was the first attempt at the treatment.
The surgery would have usually taken place after the birth but would not have been able to reverse the onset of heart failure, which prompted medical professionals to conduct the surgery before the baby was born.
Medical professionals involved with the initiative stated that there were no negative effects on the baby's brain.