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Doctors in India operate inside woman’s womb to save baby from malformed twin

Doctors in India operate inside woman’s womb to save baby from malformed twin


Sagaya Fernando
Mumbai: September 3, 2018

Doctors at Sanjay Gandhi Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences (SGPGIMS), Lucknow in India, carried out a very rare and complicated surgery inside the womb of a 26-year-old woman to save the life of a healthy foetus from its malformed twin. The malformed foetus without a heart was drawing more blood from its healthy twin, pushing it to the brink of a heart failure.
Ankita Pandey, the mother, from Ambedkar Nagar in Uttar Pradesh state was diagnosed of a tumour in her uterus while into the fifth month of her pregnancy. Only when an ultrasound scan was done did the horror being played inside the womb came to the fore.

“This was Ankita’s second pregnancy. She was diagnosed with a tumour inside her uterus. She came to us in June when she was five and a half months into the pregnancy. While doing a scan we found she was carrying two foetuses, one being normal and the other one having a heart and partially formed. In medical terminology, the foetus not having a heart is called an ‘acardiac twin’. In this case, the abnormal twin was growing inside the womb as it was getting blood supply from the healthy twin. The healthy one’s heart was not only pumping blood supply to itself but also to the abnormal twin. What was happening here was that the normal twin was supplying more blood to its abnormal twin than to itself. We detected that due to this, the normal twin was showing signs of heart failure,” said Dr Mandakini Pradhan, the head of the Maternal and Reproductive Health Department at SGPGIMS, who led the team of doctors who conducted this rare surgery.

She added, “What’s more, the twins were sharing a single placenta and a single sac, posing a significant risk to the normal twin if tried to do any chemical intervention. So we did a medical procedure called radiofrequency ablation (RFA). In this procedure, a unique medical needle-like device is used to pass on medium frequency alternate current to the tissues supplying blood to the abnormal twin, thereby burning the targeted tissues and stopping the blood supply. This saved the healthy baby from suffering a heart failure.”

“It was quite a complicated procedure and we had to take utmost care as it would have not only affected the normal twin but also caused pre-term labour in the mother, and we would have lost both of them,” said Dr Pradhan.

“After the normal twin recovered, the pregnancy was regularly monitored till the mother developed labour pain and a cesarean section was conducted on August 30, in the ninth month of the delivery. The mother and baby are doing fine now,” added she.

Such cases are very rare, and medical journals report they are found one in 7 lakh pregnancies worldwide, while it is even rarer in India, said Dr Pradhan.


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