Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children and Mount Sinai Hospital have successfully operated on a fetus to correct a heart problem.
The doctors were able to expand the infant's aortic valve using a balloon catheter.
The device, inserted through the mother's abdomen and then into the baby was able to reverse heart failure.
The team included Dr. Edgar Jaeggi, Head of the Fetal Cardiac Program at SickKids, Dr. Greg Ryan, Head of the Fetal Medicine Unit at Mount Sinai and Dr. Lee Benson, Director of the Cardiac Diagnostic and Interventional Unit at SickKids. The doctors were able to do the valve procedure allowing baby Oceana to remain in the womb for an extra month.
Sick Kids reports:
"The fetal intervention was minimally invasive for the mother and lifesaving for the baby," says Ryan. "Our ability to repair the aortic valve at 31 weeks gestation allowed the fetus to grow and thrive for four more weeks in the mother's uterus, resulting in a bigger, healthier baby at birth with decreased likelihood of additional health risks. Had the baby been delivered at 31 weeks, the heart’s left ventricle could not have been saved. The collaboration of expertise between SickKids and Mount Sinai saved this infant's life."
Mother Vicki McKenzie of Ottawa was 30 weeks pregnant when an ultrasound sounded Oceana was suffering from Critical Aortic Stenosis, meaning there was severe narrowing of the main outlet valve of the left ventricle. McKenzie was quickly taken to Toronto and offered the option of the experimental procedure.
“They have saved my daughter’s life. Having access to the expertise at these two hospitals was a comfort. I could confidently have my baby at Mount Sinai and know that she would immediately receive the urgent care she needed across the street at SickKids,” says McKenzie.
“The intervention recovered Océane’s ventrical function completely. It is operating at a normal level now. We hope this successful collaboration opens the door to giving other babies a healthier start in life,” says Jaeggi.
Oceane McKenzie was born April 15. She has had two procedures since her birth. She is now recovering and should be able to go home soon.
The first fetal cardiac surgery was performed in September 2001 at Boston's Children's Hospital.
Baby 'Jack' was a 23-week-old fetus when doctors opened a his aortic valve with a balloon catheter. The procedure saved his life. When he was born he did not require further surgery and is being followed by Wayne Tworetzky, MD in the cardiology clinic. The child may in the future have to have another aortic valve dilation.