Successful separation of conjoined twins


Nature can give you surprises and twins fall in the category of those lovely surprises.  It is exciting for parents to have twins, but conjoined twins can be a difficult situation.  Physicians in Memphis carried out a diffcult surgery to separate the twins and were successful.

Anesthesiologists of Memphis carried out a rare and risky surgery to separate conjoined twins in a novel way by flipping the patients without tangling the various lines attached to them. They rehearsed it on a pair of Cabbage Patch dolls sewn together.  Joel Saltzman, director of pediatric anesthesiology at the Memphis’ Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital hospital siad that “Everyone laughed about the dolls, but by the time the day of the surgery came, you would have thought we’d been doing it a long time.”

What was condition of the twins before the surgery?
Joshua and Jacob Spates were joined back-to-back at the pelvis and lower spine Memphis’ Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, each with separate hearts, heads and limbs. The way the twins were joined makes them pygopagus twins, which represent about 15 percent of all conjoined twins, according to the hospital.

What was challenging about separating the twins?
The challenge posed by surgey to separate the 7-month-old boys was to separate them avoiding injury to the spine. Bill Warner, an orthopedic surgeon in the hospital’s spine clinic, said the boys have health problems that will require ongoing treatment, but he expects that both will be able to walk with braces.

Jacob was born with a serious congenital heart problem and high blood pressure in the lungs. Dr. Max Langham, who led the surgical team, said waiting to separate the two increased the risks for Jacob, but lowered the risks for Joshua, who needed time to grow.  Dr. Langham waited for 7 months before proceeding...

to the surgery. 

What are chances of success of such surgical procedure?
Giancarlo Mari, director of the hospital’s fetal center and a professor at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center acknowledged that only once the pygopagus twins have been successfully separated with both children surviving during last 11years, said .

What steps did the physicians take to increase changes of success of surgery?
Seven month waiting period gave the surgery teams, consisting of more than 100 people, lots of time to practice. As per the information provided by Dr. Langham, the teams rehearsed well enough that when the actual surgery happened, there were no surprises. Fortunately, they were healthy enough to wait. “You prepare for the worst and you’re ready,” he said. “You have a plan B and a plan C. You have to prepare and you have to simulate. We had our dolls sewn together, too.”

As they say, all is well that ends well.  The surgery was well planned and rehearsed.  Wishes of KAH team goes to the twins and their parents for healthy life the twins and successful future. 


One Response

  1. Marc says:

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