Another medical first

2015-05-05 06:00

A 17-month-old boy from Manenberg was the subject of yet another medical breakthrough in South Africa.

The boy underwent the country’s first laser-assisted surgical neurosurgery procedure to relieve his brain from extra fluid.

The procedure allows surgeons to cut through the thickened scar tissue deep within the brain with the finest surgical precision.

The laser-assisted procedure was done at the Red Cross Children’s Hospital on Masslino Franke, who was born prematurely on 27 August 2013.

According to Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital spokesperson Angelique Jordaan, Masslino suffered extensive bleeding in his brain at birth.

She says soon after birth, Masslino was diagnosed with a condition called multicolated hydrocephalus. “It is a condition where scar tissue in the water spaces of the brain causes a build-up of pressure in the head, which is also know as ‘water on the brain’.”

Jordaan says during the procedure a single incision of approximately 2.5cm is made on the front of the scalp, behind the hairline.

“The laser that is used is a very fine, glass-tipped instrument (less than half a millimetre in diameter) and was specifically designed and refined for this purpose, allowing the team of paediatric neurosurgeons to use it for procedures deep within the brain.

“The fine laser tip allows the team to cut through tough scar tissue and stop any bleeding at the same time. The laser cable is so fine that it can be passed through a tiny port in the camera, which allows the team to look through the camera while performing the procedure.”

She says the procedure that was performed by Doctor Llewellyn Padayachy, is minimally-invasive and offers less scarring and pain, as well as a faster recovery period compared to traditional (neuro) surgery.

In a statement issued by the provincial health department, Masslino’s mother, Fatiema Franke, said the initial diagnosis and uncertainty about the future was very traumatic.

“We’re glad the operation was a success. He is doing fine and we’ve learned that our child can lead a better quality of life,” she said.

Jordaan says the patient is recovering well, but will require further medical treatment and most likely a further procedure.

Doctor Nomafrench Mbombo, provincial minister of health, said in a statement: “Ground-breaking medical innovation like this will inevitably change the face of medicine. This procedure has afforded Masslino Franke an opportunity to live and not be defined by multiloculated hydrocephalus.”

Mbombo also congratulated the medical team who performed the procedure for the first time in South Africa.

“I would also like to wish Masslino a speedy recovery.”

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