Doctors do more surgery on surviving twin girl

Reconstructive work performed on head, scalp

September 23, 2004|By Erika Niedowski | Erika Niedowski,SUN STAFF

The twin who survived a marathon surgical separation from her sister last week was back in the operating room yesterday for several hours of reconstructive surgery on her head and scalp.

During the seven-hour procedure, surgeons at the Johns Hopkins Children's Center patched an opening in 13- month-old Lea Block's dura mater - the fibrous outer covering of the brain - and closed a hole in the soft tissue above it using skin from the back of her head.

Surgeons were unable to do the planned reconstruction during the separation surgery because of complications largely involving her sister, Tabea, who died in the operating room after suffering a cardiac arrest. At the time, doctors moved quickly to get Lea into intensive care rather than finish the delicate reconstructive work.

In rotating a flap of skin from the back of Lea's head to close the hole in her scalp yesterday, doctors were left with a raw area which they covered, in turn, with skin grafted from her buttocks.

"She did perfectly during surgery, no problems at all," said Dr. Richard Redett, a pediatric plastic and reconstructive surgeon at the Children's Center, who participated in the separation of the Block sisters.

He said Lea was in critical but stable condition.

Assuming she continues to recover, Lea will wear a helmet to protect her head for several years because she has a "bony gap" that will require more reconstructive work when she is older, Redett said. The gap likely will be bridged with a titanium plate.

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