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VCU performs separation surgery on conjoined twins
Date:11/8/2011

RICHMOND, Va. (Nov. 8, 2011) A team of Virginia Commonwealth University pediatric surgeons today successfully completed the separation of 19-month-old conjoined twins Maria and Teresa Tapia of the Dominican Republic.

The complex, 20-hour procedure commenced Monday around 6 a.m. and was the first surgery of its kind at the Children's Hospital of Richmond at VCU. Led by David Lanning, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor in the VCU Department of Surgery and surgeon-in-chief, the team was made up of about 45 physicians and pediatric subspecialists who volunteered their time.

The twins, classified as omphalopagus, were joined at the lower chest and abdomen and shared a liver, part of their biliary system, pancreas glands and the first part of the small intestine or duodenums.

"While there aren't really centers of excellence for conjoined twins because they're so rare, there is particular expertise here at VCU in all facets of complex pediatric surgeries, including separation of conjoined twins," Lanning said. "We also have worked for years with the World Pediatric Project, the organization that brought the girls here."

According to Lanning, because of the nature of the twins' connection with their duodenums, the smaller twin, Maria, was never able to receive the nutritional benefits she needed and was nearly 20 percent smaller in size than Teresa. Another one of the major challenges due to the shared liver was the lack of blood return to the smaller twin.

Maria, Teresa and their mother first came to Children's Hospital of Richmond at VCU for the twins' initial evaluation in December 2010 through the World Pediatric Project (WPP) an organization whose main mission is to link worldwide pediatric surgical, diagnostic and preventative resources to critically ill children in developing countries.

"Without the generous support of WPP volunteers, donors and partner hospital Children's Hospital of Richmond at VCU, the
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Contact: Malorie Burkett
mgburkett@vcu.edu
804-827-0889
Virginia Commonwealth University
Source:Eurekalert

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