A team of more than 50 medical specialists in Houston, Texas worked together on a mammoth 26-hour operation to separate conjoined twins Knatalye Hope and Adeline Faith Mata.
Born at Texas Children's Pavilion for Women in April 2014, the girls shared a chest wall, lungs, pericardial sac (the lining of the heart), diaphragm, liver, intestines, colon and pelvis but underwent successful separation surgery earlier this month with the help of a 3D printed model.
The family were alerted to the twin’s condition early on during a routine ultrasound. This early detection gave doctors a year to plan the surgery which included careful imaging from radiology specialists to get as much information as possible about the twins’ complex 3D anatomy.
To provide surgeons with a tangible reference point in pre-surgery planning, a 3D printed model was created. Starting with a high quality CT scan, the image data was taken for 3D segmentation, colour coded and then converted into an STL model. The exact model was then printed by a 3D printing company in Dallas. The process from imaging to printing took just six days in total.
3D printed surgical model.
"This is the first time a separation surgery for thoraco-omphalo-ischiopagus twins with this particular configuration has been successful," explained Dr. Darrell Cass, paediatric surgeon, co-director of Texas Children's Foetal Centre and associate professor of surgery, paediatrics and obstetrics and gynaecology at Baylor College of Medicine. "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 3-D model of their organs, to conducting simulations of the actual separation surgery."
A multidisciplinary team is currently caring for the girls in the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit where it is expected they will continue to recover for a couple of months. It is anticipated they will undergo additional surgeries in the future.
Elysse Mata, mother of the twins, commented: "We are so grateful to all of the surgeons and everyone who cared for our daughters and gave them the incredible chance to live separate lives. 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.”