Conjoined twins separated in marathon operation

Driscoll Children’s Hospital Specialists
Successfully Perform Complex Procedure

A skilled team of surgeons, nurses, and other medical professionals at Driscoll Children’s Hospital in Corpus Christi, Texas, have successfully separated 10-month-old conjoined twins, Ximena and Scarlett Hernandez-Torres.

The complex procedure began on April 12 at 8:37 a.m. and ended at 8:47 p.m. It was the regional hospital’s first operation on conjoined twins. Born May 16, 2015, Ximena and Scarlett were fused below the waist and shared a colon and bladders. Their identical triplet sister, Catalina, was born without serious health issues. The incidence of a triplet birth involving conjoined twins is believed to be about 1 in 50 million.

“We are so pleased that this complicated procedure went smoothly,” said pediatric surgeon Haroon Patel, M.D., who led the team undertaking the marathon surgery. “The success of such a rare and challenging operation like this depends on having a skilled team of professionals working together, and I thank our great personnel for their hard work.”

A team of medical specialists assisted in the surgery, including professionals from pediatric surgery, plastic surgery, urology, orthopedics and anesthesia. Prior to the separation surgery, the surgical team coordinated with a variety of physicians, therapists, and specialists in other disciplines to care for the girls’ nutrition, recovery preparation, and family needs.

The team spent months preparing for the surgery using virtual computer simulations and generating 3-D models of the twins’ anatomy. Surgeons also employed innovative technology, the Image Perfusion Scanner, which had never before been used in surgery to separate conjoined twins. The scanner, or “Spy Camera,” assesses blood flow in areas where physicians are operating and provides critical information to assist surgeons in determining where to divide skin and organs.

Ximena and Scarlett will stay in Driscoll’s Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) while they recover. Physicians say the recovery will take several months and the twins will require additional surgeries as they grow.