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A brain tumor with actual teeth removed from 4-month-old infant's head

Doctors perform brain surgery.
Doctors perform brain surgery.
Photo by John Moore/Getty Images

Doctors in Maryland have successfully removed a tumor that they discovered had teeth from a 4-month-old boy’s brain.

The Feb. 27 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine reports that the baby is the first person known to have teeth form in his brain due to a certain type of rare brain tumor. The report indicates the baby survived the removal of the tumor and he appears to be doing well.

A brain scan was ordered when the infant’s head seemed to be growing too fast for a child his age. The results revealed a tumor in the deep middle of the brain containing structures similar to teeth.

Surgery was performed to remove the tumor and doctors discovered several fully formed teeth in it.

The boy is doing well now that his tumor has been removed, and doctors say the case sheds light on how these rare tumors develop. An analysis of the tumor tissue showed the baby had craniopharyngioma, a rare brain tumor.

“There have been cases of teeth, or teeth like substance in other types of tumors,” said San Antonio registered nurse, Lori Hernandez. “For instance, teeth have been found in tumors when women thought they were pregnant.”

Scientists have supposed that these type of tumors form from the similar cells involved in the development of teeth, but before now, the medical world has never perceived real teeth in this particular type of tumor, according to Dr. Narlin Beaty, a neurosurgeon at the University of Maryland Medical Center.

Dr. Beaty, and Dr. Edward Ahn performed the tumor surgery at Johns Hopkins Children's Center. Beaty explained to the Live Science organization that discovering a full tooth out of tumors known as teratomas has been seen, but the craniopharyngiomas has not.

The National Cancer Institute and New England Journal of Medicine indicate that these type of tumors are more commonly found in children ages 5 to 14.

"He's doing extremely well, all things considered," Beaty commented. "This was a big tumor right in the center of his brain.”

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