An operation to separate conjoined twins connected together from the upper thorax to the lower belly was reported to be a success on November 26 after a more-than-eight-hour surgery at Paediatric Hospital 2 in Ho Chi Minh City.

The twins Nguyen Hoang Phi Long and Nguyen Hoang Phi Phung were born 14 months ago to a poor family in central Ninh Thuan province and had undergone a special treatment process at the hospital before the surgery.

PhD. Dr Truong Quang Dinh, the hospital's deputy director, said one of the twins was in good health condition and the other was suffering after-birth cerebral haemorrhage and pneumonia with respirator support.

Doctors decided to separate the twins because any deterioration of the weaker baby can threaten the lives of the two, Dinh said.

In order to make the surgery a success, doctors at the hospital held consultations with health experts from the Trauma and Orthopedics Hospital and the Ho Chi Minh City Heart Institute. They discussed how the surgery would be conducted and anticipated problems that might occur during the process as well as how to deal with them effectively should they arise.

“As one of the boys is on a respirator, doctors faced difficulties in anaesthetising them. The intravenous infusion is also a problem since the twins have received many intravenous infusions during their stay in hospital before the surgery,” Dinh said.

He also said surgeons faced difficulties in separating the heart as it was conjoined in a complicated way. The separation of their liver was carried out very carefully as it contained abnormal blood vessels.

After the surgery, Phung had an open area from his breastbone to above his navel at a length of 12cm, so doctors covered it with a film made of biological materials and gradually closed his abdominal walls using a specific device. The biological film was made available by Pediatrics Hospital II a few months before the operation.

“We anticipated that after the surgery, Long would have his chest area closed at once, while Phung must rely on biological materials to cover his open area as a result of the separation,” said PhD. Dr Mai Trong Tuong, head of the Micro-Surgery and Plastic Surgery Department at the Trauma and Orthopedics Hospital.

After the successful operation, the babies were still going through a critical recovery process, and one of them was struggling because of a heart defect, according to Dr Dinh.

Hospital staff were working hard to help the babies overcome the procedure, he added. The cost of the operation was covered by donations.

In December 2012 Ho Chi Minh City, Children Hospital 2 doctors successfully separated twins joined at the abdomen and chest. The twins are the first children of a 23-year-old woman from central Ha Tinh province.-VNA