First ever in-utero brain surgery cures serious condition in unborn baby

Fetal embolization of the vein of galen malformation effectively prevents postnatal pathophysiology.


In a groundbreaking medical procedure, doctors successfully performed the first-ever in-utero brain surgery to eliminate the symptoms of a dangerous condition in a developing fetus. The procedure involved an intricate operation performed on the unborn baby’s brain while still inside the mother’s womb.

The condition posed a serious risk to the baby’s life and was identified during a routine ultrasound examination. The doctors determined that the fetus was suffering from a life-threatening condition that required immediate intervention. They decided to perform in-utero brain surgery to eliminate the symptoms and improve the chances of a successful birth.

The surgery was a complex procedure that required a team of experienced surgeons and specialized equipment. Advanced ultrasound technology allowed the doctors to carefully guide a tiny surgical instrument into the fetus’s brain and remove the affected tissue. The entire procedure was monitored in real-time to ensure the safety and well-being of the developing baby.

Following the surgery, the fetus showed a marked improvement in its condition. The dangerous symptoms were eliminated, and the baby could continue developing normally. The mother was closely monitored throughout the remainder of her pregnancy and ultimately gave birth to a healthy baby.

This groundbreaking procedure has opened up new possibilities for treating life-threatening conditions in unborn babies. It represents a significant advancement in fetal medicine and offers hope to families facing high-risk pregnancies. With continued research and innovation, doctors may be able to develop new techniques to treat a wide range of conditions before they even have a chance to affect the developing fetus.

Researchers have successfully performed an in-utero surgery to treat a potentially deadly condition called vein of Galen malformation (VOGM) in a fetus’s brain before birth. VOGM is a rare prenatal condition in which arteries bring high-flow, high blood pressure to the brain, creating enormous pressure on the newborn’s heart and lungs.

The in-utero embolization was performed on a fetus at 34 weeks and two days gestational age, as the first treated patient in a clinical trial underway at Boston Children’s Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, with oversight from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

“In our ongoing clinical trial, we use ultrasound-guided transuterine embolization to address the vein of Galen malformation before birth. In our first treated case, we were thrilled that the aggressive decline usually seen after birth did not appear. We are pleased to report that at six weeks, the infant is progressing remarkably well, on no medications, eating normally, gaining weight, and returning home. There are no signs of any negative effects on the brain.” said lead study author Darren B. Orbach, M.D., Ph.D., co-director of the Cerebrovascular Surgery & Interventions Center at Boston Children’s Hospital and an associate professor of radiology at Harvard Medical School.

In a case report published in Circulation, the researchers described a successful treatment performed on a patient with VOGM, which involved a catheter-based procedure to repair the malformation before birth. The procedure reduced the risk of long-term brain damage, disability, or death among infants born with VOGM.

The researchers plan to continue the trial to assess the safety and efficacy of the procedure in other patients. VOGM is estimated to occur in one in every 60,000 births. The current standard of care is treatment after birth with embolization, which is not always successful and may cause severe brain damage.

In conclusion, using transuterine ultrasound-guided fetal embolization for a vein of Galen malformation appears to be a promising approach for preventing postnatal pathophysiology and reducing the risk of long-term brain damage, disability, or death among affected infants.

While more studies are needed to assess the safety and efficacy of this technique in a larger patient population, the initial results are encouraging and suggest that this approach may mark a paradigm shift in the management of this congenital vascular brain malformation.

With continued research and development, this technique may become a valuable tool for prenatal intervention in treating vein of Galen malformation and other fetal anomalies.

Journal Reference:

  1. Darren B. Orbach, Louise E. Wilkins-Haug, Carol B. Benson et al. Transuterine Ultrasound-Guided Foetal Embolization of Vein of Galen Malformation, Eliminating Postnatal Pathophysiology.Stroke. DOI: 10.1161/STROKEAHA.123.043421
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