NRL News

More fetal surgery: tumor removed from baby’s mouth

by | Jun 26, 2012

By Dave Andrusko

In a medical first, doctors from Jackson Memorial Hospital in Florida, removed a tennis ball-size tumor from the mouth of an unborn baby. The results were reported in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Dr. Ruben A Quintero and his team report that the baby was successfully treated while in utero at seventeen weeks. Leyna Mykaella Gonzalez was born on October 1, 2010, weighing 8 pounds, 1 ounce. “The only sign of the surgery is a tiny scar on her mouth,” CBS Miami reported.


As a press conference, Tammy Gonzalez, the baby’s mother, explained that she was able to see a “bubble” coming out of the fetus’ mouth in an ultrasound. After subsequent scans, including an MRI, doctors told her that her baby had a rare tumor.

“Doctors told Tammy there was little chance her daughter would survive birth – and if she did, she would require an immediate tracheotomy in order to breath and have multiple surgeries thereafter,” CBS Miami reported. “It’s the most horrible feeling you could ever image; physically, emotionally, mentally,” said Mrs. Gonzalez.

After pondering what to do, Gonzales sought help from University of Miami/Jackson Memorial fetal surgeon Ruben Quintero. A pioneer in fetal medicine, he has treated many birth defects and high-risk conditions while the baby is still in the womb.

“The concern with these tumors is they grow very rapidly, the cause bleeding which leads to the death of the baby,” Quintero told CBS Miami.

Medical News Today reported that

“The medical team placed Mrs. Gonzalez under a local anesthetic and pushed an endoscope through the amniotic sac around the fetus. Laser was used to surgically remove the tumor. Five months after this one-hour operation, when mother was 38.5 weeks pregnant, little Leyla was born vaginally, weighing 8lb 1oz (3.7kg). Childbirth occurred without any complications.

“When Leyla was one month old, MRI scans showed no evidence of tumor recurrence in the brain or face.”

In a press conference in Miami,  Mrs. Gonzalez told reporters, “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.”

Added Mrs. Gonzales,  “She’s perfectly normal, thank God.”

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Categories: Fetal Development