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HealthWatch: Super Glue And Brain Malformation

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Joely Finkelstein plays after her surgery (credit: CBS 2)

Joely Finkelstein plays after her surgery (credit: CBS 2)

maxgomez Dr. Max Gomez
Award-winning broadcast journalist Dr. Max Gomez rejoined WCBS-TV as a...
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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.

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