Doctors in Israel complete pioneering procedure to separate conjoined twins

September 7th, 2021

Doctors in Israel have completed pioneering surgery to separate twins who were born joined at the back of the head.

The one-year-old twins have seen each other for the first time after spending the first 12 months of their lives joined at the back of their heads.

The procedure to separate the twin girls took 12 hours and was preceded by months of rigorous planning by medical experts. The operation took place at the Soroka Medical Centre in Beersheba and involved collaboration between experts based in Israel and overseas.

Head of the plastic surgery department at the centre, Eldad Silberstein, said that the girls were recovering well after surgery and had been eating and breathing independently. The procedure was the first of its kind in Israel and only the 20th operation to separate twins conjoined at the back of the head in world history.

Prior to the separation procedure, both girls underwent preparatory treatment, which was designed to stretch the skin. Several months before the operation, inflatable silicone bags were placed inside the heads to gradually encourage the skin to expand. The new skin was then used as a seal once the separation had been completed and the skulls reconstructed.

Chief neurosurgeon at Soroka Medical Centre, Mickey Gideon, explained that the team had planned the procedure meticulously using a 3D virtual model of the twins.

The twin girls, who have not been named, were born in August 2020. Following successful treatment, they are expected to live normal, healthy lives.

Conjoined twins are extremely rare. It is estimated that around 1 in every 2.5 million births produces conjoined twins. In most cases, twins are joined at the abdomen, chest or pelvis. The procedure to separate twins joined at the back of the head is very uncommon. The latest procedure carried out in Israel has only been undertaken twenty times.

Separation operations require months of meticulous planning and usually involve multi-disciplinary teams with input from experts located around the world.

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