Doctors in southern India have successfully performed a leg artery thrombolysis surgery on a barely five-day-old child.
The surgery was done at the Pondicherry Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) on Tuesday to remove a blood clot in the artery of the left leg on the baby boy who weighed just 1.8 kg.
According to Dr Ashley Solomon, who led the team, the yet-to-be named baby was the youngest patient worldwide to undergo this surgery.
Hitherto, a 20-day-old baby in the US was regarded as the youngest patient to have been operated on for a similar condition. Dr Ashley told The Times of India that the baby with bluish lifeless left leg was referred to PIMS by a private hospital in Chidambaram in early April.
Initial diagnosis by a team of specialists revealed that supply of blood to the left leg of the baby was blocked by a blood clot (thrombus) on the main vessel (iliac artery) making the leg lifeless. The condition, if left unchecked, could have led to amputation and sometimes even death.
"This complication rarely occurs in newborns. This is common in adults due to ageing of blood vessels. We had operated adult patients with such illness (both with open surgery and with pinhole angioplasty) but we never handled a five-day newborn. In fact, this boy is the youngest child to have been treated for this condition," Dr Ashley said.
The team was determined to save the dying leg of the baby and after obtaining permission from parents, decided to operate on him on April 23. "The more than two-hour surgery was performed in a very delicate manner. A fine tube (catheter) was passed through the artery of baby's leg and a medicine (thrombolytic) was injected to dissolve the clot. The surgery was a great success and the leg turned pink indicating that the blood circulation to the affected part was restored," Dr Ashley said.
He said operating a baby with vascular occlusion was very challenging because the size of the main artery was no more than the size of a ballpoint pen refill and the risk of causing injury to it was high. "Administering anesthesia to babies is also highly risky. The fact that this procedure had never been done on a five-dayold baby compounded our dilemma. However we took it as a challenge," he said.
The baby, now fully recovered from the surgery, has been taken home by his parents to home village of Kaatumannarkoil in Cuddalore district.