Conjoined Twins Separated With Help Of VR

After nearly four years in hospital, it was possible to separate the twins in a 27h lasting surgery.

Image credit: James Yarema, Unsplash

Three-year-old twins in Brazil who were conjoined at the head have been successfully separated with the help of virtual reality. Twins Bernardo and Arthur Lima underwent surgeries in Rio de Janeiro with support and direction from Great Ormond Street Hospital in London.

Described by Noor ul Owase Jeelani, a surgeon, as “space-age stuff,” the teams spent months trialing techniques using virtual reality projections of the twins, based on CT and MRI scans.

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After experts told the twins’ medical team in Rio de Janeiro that a separation surgery was impossible, they turned to Gemini Untwined and its founder, Noor Ul Owase Jeelani, M.B.B.S., who was able to work with the team at Rio’s Instituto Estadual do Cérebro Paulo Niemeyer to successfully complete the procedure.

The twins were born in 2018 in the state of Roraima, northern Brazil, as craniopagus twins – an extremely rare condition in which the siblings are fused at the cranium – and have spent most of their lives in a hospital in Rio de Janeiro, reports EuroNews.

“We had been living in the hospital for four years,” the boys’ mother, Adriely Lima, said in tears after the separation. The operation was carried out in Rio de Janeiro with direction from Great Ormond Street Hospital in London.

The planning stage took place over a six-month period which, led by UK surgeon Dr. Noor ul Owase Jeelani, incorporated models of the twins based on CT and MRI scans which were imported into a program that allowed the Brazilian and UK teams to collaborate in real-time via VR headsets.

Now, after seven surgeries, the boys have effectively become the oldest craniopagus twins to have been separated, a process which concluded in a final surgery that lasted 27 hours and involved around 100 medical staff.

“Not only have we provided a new future for the boys and their family, but we have also equipped the local team with the capabilities and confidence to undertake such complex work successfully again in the future,” said Jeelani.

Jürgen Thalmayer
September 15, 2022

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