CHENNAI: Doctors in Chennai removed a rare spinal cord tumour that had debilitated the daily life of a young girl from Tiruvannamalai district. The tumour, which according to the doctors has been reported only in around 100 cases worldwide, had hair, dental particles, flesh and fluid.
After she completed Class 10, 18-year-old Devarani from Arani could not continue her studies further due to difficulty in moving both her hands and legs. As days passed, she became dependent on her parents even for her day-to-day activities.
Trouble started around two years ago, when she first developed difficulty in walking. “Doctors at the private hospitals where we took her said she was malnourished, and prescribed vitamin tablets. But her condition only deteriorated after that. That was when we brought her to RGGGH, where they found the tumour in her spinal cord,” recalled her father, A Pichandi, a lorry driver.
Doctors at the Institute of Neurosurgery of the hospital found that it was an intramedullary spinal cord tumour, a tumour in the inner region of the spinal cord, over one-cm in size inside C4 and C7 region of the spinal cord - at the back of the neck.
“So far, only 100 such cases have been reported worldwide. Such tumours develop because of developmental anomaly. Though it’s not a cancerous tumour, if left for long, it will completly paralyse the patient, cause breathing difficulty and even death,” said Dr Ranganathan Jothi, director of the institute who performed the surgery.
“The tumour contained fluids, fat, teeth and hair, etc. This could have developed from a skin cell that could have entered the spinal cord cell,” the doctor added.
The surgery team used a sophisticated microscope while cutting the spinal cord to remove the tumour during the operation that lasted over 10 hours. “Normal view might have caused difficulty in having an accurate view of the tumour. Any mistake during the surgery would have made the patient lose her limbs,” Dr Ranganathan added.
Dr R Vimala, dean of Madras Medical College, said that the surgery was done free of cost under the Chief Minister’s Comprehensive Health Insurance Scheme. This could have cost around Rs 2.50 lakh in private hospitals.
The surgery was done on May 6 and Devarani was discharged from the hospital on June 2. She is progressing well now, Dr Ranganathan added. Now, after months of pain and suffering, Devarani is slowly getting back to normal.