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Syria Neurosurgeons Perform First Hemispherectomy for Rasmussen’s Encephalitis — Despite Malignant Sanctions

Surgery on Syrian child with Rasmussen's encephalitis

Led by Dr. Tarfa Baghdadi, a team of neurosurgeons performed Syria’s first, breakthrough, hemispherectomy on a 6 year old boy with Rasmussen’s Encephalitis — despite illicit, malignant ‘sanctions’ imposed on the country. The successful procedure was performed at Children’s Hospital, by specialists from Damascus Hospital, also called Al Mujtihad Hospital.

Rasmussen’s Encephalitis is a very rare autoimmune disorder — that targets mostly children aged 2-10 — by turning up the heat via inflammation in one of the brain’s two hemispheres, including in the cerebral spinal fluid (CSF). CSF functions as the brain’s shock absorber against trauma, deliverer of essential nutrients, and disposer of waste materials. CSF flows through the brain’s four ventricles (cavities).

Rasmussen’s Encephalitis causes medicine-resistant seizure activity. Left unchecked, the disorder causes increased epileptic events, hemiplegia (complete paralysis to half of the body, the side opposite the afflicted hemisphere), cognitive decline, hemianpopia (blindness in half of the visual field of both eyes), hemispheric atrophy, and can also end up attacking the healthy hemisphere.

Surgery on Syrian child with Rasmussen's Encephalitis
Six-year-old post-op right hemispherectomy for Rasmussen encephalitis is another first in Syrian surgeries.
Rasmussen's Encephalitis surgery
Intra-op photograph taken during hemispherectomy for Rasmussen’s Encephalitis

The seemingly drastic surgery of removal of one half of the brain decreases seizure activity by an average of 80% — one study found 96% of fifty-two patients seizure-free — and prevents the above noted types of physiological deterioration, while preserving motor and sensory function and intellectual development.

Dr. Baghdadi explained to SANA that his country’s first hemispherectomy required meticulously delicate excision of all parts of the afflicted hemisphere: The corpus callosum (nerve fibers that function as transmitters between the left and right hemispheres), corona radiata (nerve fibers that function as transmitters to all cells of the cerebral cortex and brain stem), and the ventrical horns to the temporal, parietal, and occipital lobes.

brain's two hemispheres
Superior photo showing medial fissure that separates the brain’s two hemispheres.
Brain anatomy
Brain anatomy. Lower drawing shows left hemisphere.
corpus callosum
Drawing shows location of right hemispheric corp
us callosum. Courtesy, Neuroscientifically Challenged.
ventricular system
ventricular system
Afflicted ventricular horns excised during hemispherectomy for Rasmussen’s Encephalitis. Drawing courtesy of Clininical Neuroanatomy Chapter 11: Ventricles and Coverings of the Brain.

The lead surgeon also noted that the young patient awoke neuroanatomically intact, and was undergoing short-term rehab.

In spite of the coercive economic terrorism imposed by the US and various criminal EU countries, since the beginning of the NATO Spring imposed on the Syrian Arab Republic (erroneously called sanctions which actually require passage of a UN Resolution by the P5), other breakthrough medical and engineering procedures have been successful: Syria performed its first artificial corneal transplant; Syrian surgeons successfully performed a rare retroperitoneal paraganglioma resection, the case study of which was published in BMC Surgery; Syria has manufactured its own COVID-19 medications; Syria performed the first mitral valve replacement in the region; Syria built its first ventilator in sixteen days.

Now, to these extraordinary, life-saving and life-affirming accomplishments, Syria has performed its first hemispherectomy, involving a six year old boy with Rasmussen’s Encephalitis.

Miri Wood

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  1. Miri

    “Dr. Mohammad Imad al-Droubi won two gold medals for the unified kit for dental implant systems and titanium mesh for reconstructing the jaw bone over the inferior alveolar nerve, while Dr. Ibrahim Tourkmani and Eng. Omar al-Jabaee and their colleagues won a gold medal for their patent for a mixture of Propolis and acrylic resin….The ramifications and potential future applications to these developments are immense, and may even prove to be a cure for trigeminal neuralgia.” —


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