Groundbreaking Surgery Removes tumour From A Baby Still In The Womb


Photo: University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Hospital

Surgeons performed the world’s first in utero surgery on a 17-week old foetus after diagnosing a rare and potentially fatal tumour, reports Richard Luscombe of the Guardian.In 2010, surgeons at the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Hospital removed the growth using a laser beam, but waited to formally announce the landmark operation in a scientific journal before going public.

Tammy Gonzalez’s baby developed normally until a routine ultrasound revealed a peach-sized tumour extending from the roof of the foetus’s mouth. The condition, known as a fetal oral teratoma, affects one in 100,000 pregnancies.

Her initial options were to either terminate the pregnancy or hope that the problem could be corrected after delivery with numerous surgeries, but doctors warned that the rapidly growing tumour could eventually weigh as much as two pounds and result in fatal bleeding.

The doctors began doing research and were referred to Dr. Ruben Quintero, a pioneer in fetal medicine at the University of Miami, who was willing to try in utero surgery despite the fact that it had never been done.

From the Guardian

Quintero and his wife, foetal surgeon Eftichia Kontopoulos, operated using an endoscope guided by an ultrasound. The only cut was a minor incision in the mother’s abdomen. Using a laser, they cut away the mass in the baby’s mouth – all with Gonzalez conscious and watching on a screen.

Leyna Gonzalez was born without issue five months later with only a tiny scar on her mouth.

On Thursday, 20-month-old Leyna — which means “little angel” — high-fived the surgeons who saved her life before anyone had even met her. 



Photo: University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Hospital

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