Super Glue Saves Baby: Ashlyn Julian Saved After Doctors Seal Brain Aneurysm [VIDEO]

By iScienceTimes Staff on June 11, 2013 11:04 AM EDT

Ashlyn Julian
Super glue saved baby Ashlyn Julian from a lethal brain aneurysm. The super glue procedure is believed to be the first time doctors used the compound for an infant brain aneurysm surgery. (Photo: YouTube / KUHopsital)

Super glue saved the life of baby Ashlyn Julian when doctors applied the compound to a bleeding aneurysm.

The Olathe, Kan., baby was born healthy on May 16. But after a few days, her parents noticed something wasn't quite right with Ashlyn.

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"She was probably around 10 days old, and she was sleeping a lot, and I understand that babies sleep a lot, but to the point that you couldn't wake her up to feed her," said Gina Julian, Ashlyn's mother.

Then her behavior shifted in dramatically, in the opposite direction.

"We (went) from a baby that was very quiet to a baby that was screaming all the time and throwing up, and at that point we knew something was very wrong," Julian said.

Ashlyn's parents took her to the emergency room at Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, where doctors noticed a lump in her fontanel, the soft spot on a newborn's head.

"The ultrasound was as far as we made it because they saw something in her head at that point in time, so they decided to transfer her to a hospital that was better equipped for what was going on," said Julian.

It was there, in the University of Kansas Hospital, in Kansas City, that doctors performed an MRI and discovered an almond-sized aneurysm in Ashlyn's brain.

Doctors weren't sure how to proceed. Brain aneurysms in children are extremely rare said. Koji Ebersole, a neurosurgeon and Ashlyn's doctor. Doctors aren't sure why aneurysms, which usually develop over time, occur in infants. Aneurysms in infants are so rare, Ebersole said, that there aren't even tools manufactured that are small enough for the procedure.

"We did not know what the right answer was," said Koji Ebersole, an endovascular neurosurgeon. "This was not a textbook case. If you try to treat the baby without closing the aneurysm...most of those babies can't survive. So we had a strong reason to develop a plan to close the aneurysm."

Ebersole had to act quick, after Ashlyn experienced two brain hemorrhages. He was wary of opening the skull to operate, which is generally how aneurysms in adult patients are dealt with, though he did consider it.

"The difficulty is, on a child so small, any amount of blood loss represents a significant percentage of her overall blood volume. So a surgery on the brain to approach something that wants to bleed -- we could have been in a situation with bleeding we could not keep up with, and that would have been life-threatening."

So Ebersole tried a novel approach, inserting a catheter into a blood vessel in Ashlyn's hip, then guiding it up to her neck. Using a brain imaging machine, Ebersole was able to guide the catheter up into Ashlyn's brain, where he applied super glue to the bleeding aneurysm, sealing it.

"It's literally the same compound as the superglue you'd find in the store," Ebersole said.

The procedure, which took less than 45 minutes, was perhaps the first time a cyanoacrylate, or super glue, has ever been used to stop an infant's bleeding aneurysm, doctors at the University of Kansas Hospital say. 

"The breathing tube was taken out the very next day," Ebersole said. "I did not know that she'd be ready that fast, and I think she's been making steady strides since, so we're all very happy."

Baby Ashlyn is expected to make a full recovery.

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