Le Bonheur surgeons separated rare conjoined pygopagus twins

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Doctors at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital successfully separated conjoined twins, Joshua and Jacob Spates, on Monday, Aug_29. The Spates family is from Memphis. Conjoined twins are identical twins whose bodies do not fully separate in utero. A rare phenomenon, conjoined twins occurs in approximately one in 100,000 births.

Joshua and Jacob are pygopagus twins, which is a rare form of twins joined back to back at the pelvis and lower spine, each with separate hearts, heads and limbs. This type represents only 15 percent of conjoined twins.

Born joined at the lumbar sacral spine and sharing a rectum, muscle and nerves, the twins are one of only six documented cases in Memphis history. The Spates boys were diagnosed prenatally via ultrasound at 25 weeks gestation and then referred to Le Bonheur’s Fetal Center. Dr. Giancarlo Mari, medical director of the Fetal Center, developed a plan of care and delivered the boys at 34 weeks gestation on Jan_24 via Caesarean section at The Regional Medical Center.

During the 13-hour separation surgery, surgeons separated the spinal column, spinal cord and muscles and completed gastrointestinal repairs.

“This collaboration of physicians and specialists is the absolute proof of success from years of national recruitment of the best,” said Meri Armour, Le Bonheur president and CEO. “For our team to have successfully separated a case of this complexity and do it flawlessly is a major milestone in health care for the city of Memphis and the region.”

Joshua and Jacob remain in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) at Le Bonheur where they will continue to receive critical care and rehabilitation therapy.

Source: Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, USA

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