HealthWatch: Super Glue And Brain Malformation

NEW YORK (CBS 2) — This past summer, CBS 2 first told you the amazing story of a baby girl, was born with a potentially lethal brain malformation, who was saved when doctors injected a special type of super glue into her brain. Dr. Max Gomez wanted to find out how little Joely Finkelstein is doing.

Joely was born with a malformation of blood vessels in her brain, which led to hydrocephalus or water on the brain, which caused her head to grow unusually large.

The Chicago family came to New York’s Roosevelt Hospital where Dr. Alejandro Berenstein used the super glue procedure to save her life.

“She’s showing a lot more, smiling a lot more, showing more expressions, and personality, it’s great,” said her father Mark Finkelstein.

What made this remarkable transformation possible is a procedure right out of a science fiction story: Dr. Berenstein, a world expert in treating these problems, threaded a micro-catheter through an artery in Joely’s groin, all the way into the malformation in her brain.

Then in an amazing, delicate procedure, he actually injects tiny amounts of medical-grade super glue, closing off most of the vessels feeding the Vein of Galen short circuit.

Mom could tell that Joely was feeling better right away. “She was becoming less and less fussy and just a much more delightful personality and that continues to develop,” said Darby Finkelstein.

Joely was born with something called a Vein of Galen malformation. The huge dark circle in the middle of her brain is a short circuit between arteries and veins. That enlarges the veins, preventing brain fluid from draining normally.

Dr. Berenstein couldn’t close off the entire malformation all at once. It would be too much of a shock to Joely’s brain. An MRI just a few days ago showed Joely’s fluid-filled brain ventricles are dramatically reduced.

“The big dilated Vein of Galen is markedly decreased but it’s still open,” Dr. Berenstein said. “We have not resolved the problem. It’s going to take a little more work. Hopefully we’re going to do her third procedure today.”

Even so, Joely’s parents knowtheir baby’s life was saved and they have a lot to be thankful for this holiday season. “Certainly at this time of year I think you tend to reflect on what you are most thankful about in your life and certainly we have a lot to be thankful for,” Darby said.

Joely had that repeat procedure five days ago.  On Monday she was having a grand old time with toys in the hospital playroom, as if she hadn’t had anything done.

Dr. Berenstein said he was able to close off a more of the vein malformation but that Joely will likely have to come back at least one more time to glue everything shut.

He also said she should develop and grow like a normal child.

As for the super-glue in her brain, it actually stays there forever. You can see it on X-rays. It’s lodged in these abnormal blood vessels that are now closed off and shouldn’t bother joely as her brain continues to develop.

While Dr. Berenstein is a world expert in this technique, he also gives a lot of credit to his entire team, especially the anesthesiologists who must control Joely’s blood pressure to allow the superglue to be injected safely, without spreading to other parts of the brain.

More from Dr. Max Gomez
  • Dani Stone

    Dr. Berenstein saved our daughter, Kaitlynn, when he performed 3 embolization procedures from 2006 to 2008. He is a genius and his team is amazing. We are forever indebted to Dr. B.

  • Sandra Sulzbach

    Hello, my name is Sandra Sulzbach and my daughter of 11 months old was diagnosed of vein of gallen malformation, she had three embolisations of her brain, when the doctors did the third one, she suffered an stroke in her right side of her brain, right now is in threrapies (physical, occupational and speech), she is doing much better although she has to go back with the doctors again to see what would be the next step to follow…although she suffered an stroke thanks God she can move all her body, she needs more flexibility in her left side but she is doing much better…I would like to know more information about Dr. Allejandro Bereintein (Specialist in this problem vein of gallen malformation) in regard of the super glue for the vein of gallen malformation,..can you please send me this information…I really appreciate it…God bless you all, and I am very happy for this little boy that was saved…

    • Frank

      Hello Sandra, I’m so sorry to hear your daughter had complications with the VGM. We will pray for you all for a full recovery. Our friends son had the same complications and did suffer a stroke but is doing much better now, he is almost three years old and doing great. My wife and I met them when our daughter Yvonne was undergoing her third embolization, she has had many and is now fully cured. Dr Bereinstein is the best of the best, you can google his name and read all about him. If you leave your e-mail address when you comment I can write you directly. God bless you, Frank and Dorothy

      • Sandra Sulzbach

        Thank you so much Frank for sharing your story with us…we are happy to hear that your daughter is fine and healthy…my husband and I would like to have more information about Dr. Bereintein because we really our daughter be fine, we would like to have a second opinion, and we know Dr. Bereintein in specialized in Vein of Galen Malformation, the doctors in Florida say that she will need another MRI in October but we are praying to God to find the right doctor to make the next procedure…Can you please help us with this, we really appreciate it…God bless you always and thank you for the prayers that you can do to God for our baby Maryanne Grace…my e-mail is: or in facebook…thank you for sharing your daughter Yvonne story with us at Facebook…she is doing great, she is a beautiful angel…God bless her…

  • Margarita

    Dr. Bernstein has been saving lives for many years. My husband’s included 11 years ago. God bless him and his team of Excellent doctors. Joely is definitely in the best hands.

  • Frank

    Dr. Berenstein continues to save lifes!! Thanks to Dr. B and his staff, my 2 1/2 year old daughter is a VGM survivor! At two days old she had her first embolization, a one year old, her sixth. She is now cured and a beautiful, healthy, smart little girl! I thank God every day and ask him to continue to bless Dr. Berenstein and his staff. My advice to anyone going through this, never give up, always have faith, and support each other. My wife and I are best friends, without each other we would have never got through this.

  • Kevin

    Dr. Berenstein has performed this procedure on my Arteriovenous Malformation a number of times. He is the best in his field and this child is in the best hands she could be in. This family has found a miracle worker. I continue to go to this practice, although I don’t see Dr. B anymore since I’m 36, I will forever be in debated to him forever! The last time he performed this procedure on me, as an adult, was while I was having a hemorrhage of one of the vessels of the malformation. I honestly feel Dr. Berenstein has saved my life.

  • williamstaerk

    I have posted this already here before You guys should stop complaining because, one the health care we have now isnt as good as it was supposed to be. also the law has just been signed so give it some time. so if u want to say u have the right to choose tell that to ur congress men or state official. If you do not have insurance and need one You can find full medical coverage at the lowest price check search online for “Wise Health Insurance” If you have health insurance and do not care about cost just be happy about it and believe me you are not going to loose anything!

    • DanTe

      Thanks for the info. I’ve just reported as a fraud site to various IP monitoring services. Pathetic T ARD.

  • Mark

    I applaud the ingenuity behind the technique that promises this child much more normal life… Kudos, doctors/scientists!^^ Excellent work.

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