AKUH performs first-ever bedside surgery on newborn

The Paediatric Surgery team at Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH) in Karachi has achieved a remarkable feat by successfully performing a bedside surgery on a newborn baby for hernia repair. This groundbreaking surgery took place in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), making it a first-of-its-kind achievement. Unlike traditional surgeries conducted in ideal operating room conditions, this procedure was carried out at the baby’s bedside.

The baby boy, born on April 25, 2023, at the Aga Khan Maternal and Child Care Centre in Hyderabad, faced breathing difficulties shortly after birth, leading to a diagnosis of congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH). CDH occurs when the diaphragm, the muscle separating the abdomen from the chest, fails to close properly, allowing abdominal organs to migrate into the chest cavity. This condition can impede the growth of the lungs and heart and is potentially life-threatening for newborns.

Due to the critical condition of the baby, he was immediately transferred to AKUH’s main campus in Karachi, where he was intubated and admitted to the NICU. Despite receiving advanced care, his condition remained highly critical, necessitating surgery as the only viable solution for his CDH.

However, the team faced a unique challenge. The baby’s instability made it impossible to transport him to the operating room, requiring a different approach. The AKUH experts rose to the occasion, transforming the NICU into an operating theatre that met all safety and sterility requirements for the surgery.

Led by Dr. Muhammad Aqil Soomro, Section Head of Paediatric Surgery at AKUH, and supported by an expert team of paediatric surgeons, NICU doctors and nurses, the anaesthesia team, and support staff, the bedside surgery was successfully performed on April 29, 2023. The procedure, lasting two hours, concluded without any major complications.

Following the surgery, the baby’s respiration began to improve, and with gradual weaning off ventilation and medications, he made significant progress. Finally, on May 7, 2023, the baby was discharged from the hospital and happily sent home to continue his journey towards a healthy life.

Dr. Saleem Islam, Chair of Surgery at AKUH, commended the team’s dedication and highlighted the significance of bedside surgeries for critically ill newborns with CDH.

“Transporting these fragile babies to the operating room can be dangerous and impact surgery outcomes,” emphasized Dr. Islam. “The decision to perform the surgery at the baby’s bedside was driven by the need to ensure uninterrupted and safe care for this critical newborn.”

Soon after the success of its first bedside surgery, AKUH later performed a second surgery on another newborn with CDH. This groundbreaking achievement by the Paediatric Surgery team at AKUH demonstrates their commitment to innovation and excellence in healthcare. The success of this first-of-its-kind bedside surgery showcases AKUH’s expertise and dedication to providing advanced medical care for critically ill newborns.

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