Feb. 24, 2015 | By Rich

It took a team of about 30 surgical specialists at Texas Children's Hospital to successfully complete a 26-hour surgery that separated a pair of 10-month old conjoined twins. Elysse Mata found out she was pregnant with conjoined twins after 19 weeks of pregnancy - 12 weeks later on April 11, 2014, she gave birth to Knatalye Hope and Adeline Faith Mata.

The twin girls spent the next 10 months conjoined at the chest wall, lungs, pericardial sac (lining of the heart), diaphragm, liver, intestines, colon and pelvis. On February 17, 2015, a team of doctors successfully separated the twins after 26 hours of intensive surgery. Because of the complexity of the surgery and the number of shared organs, surgeons put in countless hours of planning, preparation and using new technologies in order to ensure a successful operation for Knatayle and Adeline.

Dr. Darrel Cass, pediatric surgeon and co-director of the Texas Children's Fetal Center was quoted saying, "This surgery was not without its challenges with the girls sharing several organ systems. Our team has been preparing for this surgery for months, and we've done everything from working with our radiology experts to build a 3D model of their organs, to conducting simulations of the actual separation surgery."

The surgery was the first of its kind to be performed in Houston in about 20 years. Thanks to 3D printing, the surgical team was able to anticipate and circumvent a variety of complications that could have arisen in such a complex procedure. According to the hospital, a medical model was produced in just about six days, requiring three days of radiology imaging and three days at a 3D printing firm in Dallas.

The model showed in great detail twin's heart, lungs, stomach, and kidneys. And the detachable, transparent liver models shows even the blood vessels inside.

"This type (3D) of surgical planning becomes very important when you decide to assign an organ to one twin or the other," Dr. Rajesh Krishnamurthy, Chief of Radiology Research and Cardiac Imaging at Texas Children's Hospital, said in a video recently released by the hospital. "Having a 3D printed model gives you an insight into what you're going to encounter. The model goes into a fair degree of detail."

The team of doctors that assisted in the surgery included specialists from pediatric surgery, cardiovascular surgery, liver transplant surgery, plastic surgery, urology, pediatric gynecology, liver transplant surgery and orthopedic surgery. The final 3 hours of surgery involved operating solely on Adeline as Knatalye started the recovery process in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. The twins will remain in the Pediatric ICU until doctors can determine when they will be able to return home. The girls will most likely undergo additional surgeries in the near future, which will require much more planning, preparation and maybe even 3D printing for the doctors and technicians.

"We are so grateful to all the surgeons and everyone who cared for our daughters and gave them the incredible chance to live separate lives," Mata said. "We know how much planning and time went into this surgery, and we are so blessed to be at a place like Texas Children's, where we have access to the surgeons and caretakers that have made this dream a reality."

Watch the videos below released by Texas Children's Hospital. More images of the operation can be seen here.



Posted in 3D Printing Applications


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