Surgeons have removed a rare tumour called an oral teratoma in the mouth of a foetus, which is the first time such a procedure has been carried out.
The tumour was found 17 weeks into the pregnancy of mother Tammy Gonzalez. During the scan, Ms Gonzalez said she “could see a bubble” coming out of her baby’s mouth, which doctors diagnosed as an oral teratoma. These types of tumour are benign in adults, but in the newborn it can cause respiratory distress due to tracheal obstruction.
Child survival rates are very slim once diagnosed with the condition, but after a revolutionary surgical procedure was carried out, baby Leyna was successfully born five months later.
Doctors at the Jackson Memorial Hospital in Florida, said this type of tumour was so rare it had been seen only once in 20 years at the hospital. The procedure involved Ms Gonzalez being put under a local anaesthetic through a needle which was pushed through the protective amniotic sac around the foetus.
The surgeons then used a laser to cut the tumour from Leyna’s lips, with the operation taking just over an hour. Ms Gomez told a press conference in Miami: “When they finally severed the whole thing off and I could see it floating down, it was like this huge weight had been lifted off me and I could finally see her face.”
She described the surgeons as “saviours”.
The doctors said: “To our knowledge, this is the first successful treatment of a foetal oral teratoma in utero.”
Baby Leyna Mykaella Gonzalez was born in October 2010 weighing 8lb 1oz. She is now a healthy 20-month-old child, with only a tiny scar on her mouth to show for the surgery.
Even though the operation took place over two years ago, the details have only recently been released in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology.