There is no shortness of innovative procedures in the medical field. When three-week-old Ashlyn Julian was found to have a rare aneurysm Doctors at University of Kansas (KU) Hospital had to think outside of the box to save her life.
Ashlyn was born on May 16th without any complications. But just a few weeks after coming home the baby girl had begun to vomit and looked tired.
Her parents took her to Children’s Mercy South but the problem could not be found until, at another Children’s Mercy location, an MRI revealed a brain aneurysm.
According to pediatric neurosurgeon Koji Ebersole who operated on Ashlyn, brain aneurysms in babies are extremely rare as they often develop over many years.
He added that doctors are still uncertain why such aneurysm might occur in babies and though Ashlyn has been saved, they don’t know why she had the rare condition in the first place.
The challenge for doctors was to operate on such a small baby. Because it is very rare for full term babies to have bleeding in the brain, there are no pediatric tools available and surgeons have to rely on the smallest adult surgical equipment.
Baby Ashlyn had also suffered a second hemorrhage and was taken for surgery last Wednesday.
A group of doctors at KU Hospital, including many from other hospitals, began the procedure to save the baby’s life. Led by Dr. Ebersole, the team first inserted a tiny catheter into a blood vessel in Ashlyn’s right hip. From there, Ebersole navigated the catheter through Ashlyn’s blood vessels and up into her neck.
Using a sophisticated brain imaging machine the surgeon navigated a micro catheter next to the aneurysm in Ashlyn’s brain. It was then that the sterile surgical superglue was deposited on the blood vessel. The glue dried in seconds and created an internal cast, sealing the blood vessel.
Generally, a brain aneurysm is treated by opening the patient’s skull. But because Ashlyn was so small, the surgeons did not want to take any risks. Dr. Ebersole, therefore decided to treat her using the rare procedure.
He says in the past similar procedures have only been documented 20 times. Also, this is perhaps the first time that such a small infant has been treated using superglue.
“It’s literally the same compound as the superglue you’d find in the store,” Ebersole said.
Ashlyn’s mom Gina Julian said,
“I can’t express how incredibly lucky and graced we are. I can actually breathe for the first time in a week,”.
Hospital spokesperson Jill Chadwick added that the procedure is so rare that Dr. Ebersole might not even perform it ever again. He will, however, write about it for the medical community.
In the past we have written about another baby who was treated with super glue. In 2010 preemie, Joely Finkelstein‘s hydrocephalus was treated using the high power bonding agent. At that time, Dr. Alejandro Berenstein of St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital inserted a catheter into an artery in the baby girl, followed it up to the brain, and injected a small amount of medical grade super glue. The super glue trick worked to stop the fluid from building up.
Dr. Ebersole believes that Ashlyn will probably never have trouble with the aneurysm again. She will have to return to the hospital to have the blood that was spilled by the aneurysm into the brain’s spaces drained, but after that she should live a regular life.