By Kim Palmer
(Reuters) - Conjoined 11-month-old twin girls were successfully separated after a 16-hour surgery last week in a hospital in Columbus, Ohio, the hospital said in a statement on Tuesday.
Acen and Apio Akello of Uganda, who had been joined at the pelvic and hip region, were successfully separated on Thursday, Nationwide Children's Hospital said.
Three-dimensional modeling was used to help the neurosurgeons divide their intertwined spinal cords, said Dr. Gail Besner, chief of pediatric surgery at the hospital.
"My hope is that they will be able to sit up on their own, walk and play like any other child," Besner said.
The girls and their mother, Ester Akello, arrived at the hospital in December. The sisters had surgery earlier in 2015 to prepare their skin for the separation and will need additional surgery.
Conjoined twins occur in about 1 in 200,000 pregnancies, the hospital said. The sisters are the fourth set of conjoined twins the hospital has separated successfully since 1978, it said.
(Reporting by Kim Palmer in Cleveland; Editing by David Bailey and Mohammad Zargham)