By Taddeo Bwambale
A pair of Ugandan twins born joined at the pelvic and hip region is recovering after they were surgically separated in a break-through operation at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in the US.
The girls named Acen and Apio underwent surgery on Thursday last week and the delicate operation lasted 16 hours, the hospital said in a statement released yesterday.
The eleven-month-old twins are daughters of a Ugandan identified as Ester Akello and were flown to Nationwide Children’s in December 2014.
The operation was conducted by a surgical team of more than 30 specialists.
The specialists undertook a delicate job of separating the spinal cord after identifying which muscles and nerves belonged to Acen and Apio, Gail Besner, the chief of Pediatric Surgery at hospital explained.
Highlighting the complexity of the operation, Besner said tissue expanders had to be placed underneath the twins’ skin earlier this year to prepare for their separation.
Conjoined twins occur in about one in 200,000 pregnancies. Since 1978, surgeons at the US hospital have successfully separated four sets of conjoined twins, including the Akello sisters.
The twins are expected to stay longer at the hospital before returning home since the will both need to have one additional surgery to remove their colostomies which they have had since shortly after birth.
It is the first time this specific type of monitoring has been done in a conjoined twins’ separation surgery that involved separating their spines, muscle and tissue.
According to the statement, two neurosurgeons focused on one sister each and assisted each other to delicately divide their intertwined spinal cords.
The specialists also performed operations to create an anal opening for each of the twins since neither twin was born with the organ.
According to the hospital, pioneering technology including pre-operative 3D modeling, as well as intra-operative neurophysiological monitoring, were used during the subtle operation.
Jeffrey Leonard, the chief of neurosurgery at Nationwide Children’s said imaging helped guide the medical team’s understanding of the twins’ anatomy.