News Local Cypriot doctor Nicolaou in medical first for Africa

Cypriot doctor Nicolaou in medical first for Africa

Cypriot Professor Ermos Nicolaou  helped make medical history in Africa when an expert team of doctors in Johannesburg successfully performed spinal surgery on a foetus who has spina bifida, the South African media reports.

Nicolaou, a specialist obstetrician and gynaecologist and specialist in maternal and foetal medicine, and his team at Mediclinic Morningside worked with a team of international experts, led by Professor Mike Belfort from the US, to perform the spinal surgery on the 25-week-old foetus on Saturday.

The delicate and complex operation requires considerable expertise and involves a team of experienced clinicians ranging from maternal and foetal medicine to neurosurgery, anaesthesiologists, neonatologists and specialised neonatal ICU care.

Belfort and his team have been pioneers in the field of foetal surgery and in particular in the repair of spina bifida in utero.

Nicolaou said parents could choose to terminate the pregnancy or have the baby and have a number of surgeries after delivery to repair the defect on the spine, the brain and the feet, and take measures to improve the problem of incontinence.

“The in-utero surgery will provide them with an additional option where a repair can be performed before the baby is born,” he said.

Nicolaou believes that the repair of spina bifida in utero may stop the inflammatory process that leads to the damage of the nerves and potential abnormalities.

As the operation is performed with tiny instruments through the uterine wall and by not cutting the uterus open, the recovery period is a lot faster and the patient may go on to have a normal vaginal delivery if she wishes.

“This is a very delicate surgery and the success varies. In utero laparoscopic repair can also have complications such as foetal death or premature labour. Careful evaluation and selection of these cases is very important,” Nicolaou said.

After the immediate post-operative period, close monitoring of both the mother and foetus until delivery will be mandatory. Once the baby is born, the neurosurgeon who was a member of the operating team will assess the baby and decide if further corrective procedures will be required.

“The overall incidence of neural tube defects and spina bifida is around 1 in 1000 pregnancies. We have around 1 million live births in South Africa every year, so we are looking at around 1000 new cases of neural tube defects every year in our country.  Our plan is to expand our foetal surgery service to other abnormalities as well,” Nicolaou said.

“A few examples of what the team would be able to offer are operations on the heart, lungs, abdomen, kidneys and bladder. One has to be very clear that operations on foetuses will only be considered if the foetal abnormality is so severe that it will lead to foetal death or severe handicap,” Nicolaou said.

Top Stories

Largest supermoon of 2020 rises on a world battling Covid-19 (photos)

The largest, brightest supermoon of 2020 rose in the night sky on Tuesday over hushed cities, stilled factories and countries in lockdown due to...

UK PM Johnson is stable, still in intensive care – Downing Street

British Prime Minister Boris Johnsons condition is stable and he remains in intensive care for close monitoring, a spokesman for his office said on...

Paphos: 5 booked at swimming pool, another 5 playing football

Five foreign nationals were booked by police on Tuesday afternoon at the swimming pool of a Paphos apartment complex. None were swimming, but all were...

Trump accuses U.S. Health Department watchdog of ‘fake dossier’ on coronavirus

President Donald Trump on Tuesday accused the U.S. Health Department's inspector general of having produced a "fake dossier" on American hospitals suffering shortages on...

5 tons of chloroquine imported from India for Cyprus, Israel

Five tons of API Chloroquine have been imported from India for Cyprus and Israel as part of a joint initiative by the two countries...

Taste

Stuffed vine leaves without meat

(Dolmadakia gialantzi) Rinse the leaves and boil in salted water for approximately 10 minutes until soft. Drain and place in some cold water with ice...

Snails with tomato sauce

When the snails are ready, drain them. Fry the onions in the oil and once slightly brown, add the tomatoes. Stir until cooked well...

Sea bream with capers

Clean the sea bream well, add salt and pepper to them and brush them with olive oil. Mix the capers and parsley together as...

Halloumi bread

Sift the flour with the salt into a bowl and mix in the yeast and lemon rind. Make a well in the centre of...