Delhi surgeons cure infant with abnormal food pipe

New Delhi: A nine-month-old baby girl, born with an abnormal food pipe, is now able to take in food successfully after key-hole surgery at a city hospital here. According to doctors at Fortis Hospital, in Shalimar Bagh in north-west Delhi, Baby Simran (name changed) was suffering from oesophageal atresia -- a condition where the oesophagus is incomplete -- caused by an aberrant embryological development of the food pipe.  Simran's food pipe was partially absent, with the upper food pipe not able to connect with the lower food pipe and the stomach.  The condition usually occurs in a newborn with excessive salivation (drooling) and is frequently accompanied with choking, and coughing.  When fed the usual way through the mouth, the food would return from the nose or the mouth. In such cases, the baby can turn cyanotic (blue) as the fluid may go into the trachea or the windpipe.  Simran was fed for nine months through a catheter that was inserted into the stomach. The surgical treatment for correction of this condition depends on the intensity of the condition, the doctors said.  In the case of smaller defects, the two blind ends of the food pipe are brought together and sutured. However, for larger gaps, a new food pipe has to be constructed. "The baby was born with the congenital defect of a large gap in the food pipe, which had to be reconstructed, presenting multiple challenges to the doctors," said Anju Gambhir, Senior Consultant (Department of Pediatric Surgery), in a statement.  The team of doctors decided to conduct open and laparoscopic oesophagal surgery, also known as keyhole surgery -- a procedure that is traditionally conducted through an open technique and can leave significant scars on the abdomen for a lifetime.  "As laparoscopic surgeries in infants are rare, the equipment used in such surgeries are also not routinely manufactured to suit the small size of the patient. Minimally invasive surgery in infants with this condition is thereby performed only in very limited centres across the world," added Amit Javed, Consultant and Head (Gastrointestinal Surgery). Using the stomach and the large intestine, the team of doctors reconstructed the food pipe.  Simran has recovered completely post-surgery and is able to take her food easily. "She is our first child and when we were faced with the challenge that was beyond our comprehension we were naturally demotivated. We are now relieved to see our child in a normal condition and we are very grateful to the team of doctors," said the teary-eyed mother of Simran.