Surgeons separate conjoined twin girls after 10 hour long life-changing procedure

Twins Addison and Lilianna Altobelli were born connected at the abdomen and chest, meaning they shared a liver, diaphragm, chest and abdominal wall.

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Addison and Lilianna Altobelli have returned to their family home in Chicago after they were successfully separated by surgeons at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia October 13, 2021.

The 10-month-old conjoined twins had spent nearly a year at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia in intensive care.

Addison (Addy) and Lilianna (Lily) Altobelli were born connected at the abdomen and chest, a condition known as thoraco-omphalopagus twins.

The two girls shared a liver, diaphragm, chest and abdominal wall.

The life-changing surgery to separate the twins took approximately 10 hours to complete and involved more than two dozen specialists, including general surgeons, anesthesiologists, radiologists, a cardiothoracic surgeon, and plastic surgeons.

The surgical team have used layers of mesh and plastic surgery to rebuilt each girl's chest and abdominal wall.

The Altobelli Family
The Altobelli Family

Lead surgeon Holly L.Hedrick, MD, an attending pediatric and fetal surgeon at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia said "separating conjoined twins is always a challenge because every single set of twins is unique, and they all have different challenges and anatomic considerations".

Holly L.Hedrick, MD, in the Division of Pediatric General Thoracic and Fetal Surgery, explained: "the way our team works together, it's really incredible and special, with so many people coming together to work toward a common goal. Addy and Lily are doing well, and our hope is that they have full lives that are joyful."

Conjoined twins occur in only about 1 in 50,000 births, making the condition rare.

The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia is one of only a few in the United States with experience in separating conjoined twins, carrying out more than 28 operations since 1957 - in a record for procedures of this nature in any hospital in the country.

The Altobelli family arrived back home to Chicago in December 1, 2021 – one twin at a time, with one parent each – after living in Philadelphia for more than a year.

Addy and Lily Altobelli are both still fitted with tracheostomy tubes and ventilators to help with their breathing.