A tumor with teeth is presenting a medical mystery to doctors in Maryland, who say a 4-month-old infant may be the first documented person to have teeth actually form inside of the cranium as a result of a rare brain tumor.
LiveScience on Thursday, via Fox News, said surgery to extract the tumor was successful, and the growth, once removed, revealed several fully formed teeth.
Says LiveScience: “Doctors first suspected something might be wrong when the child's head appeared to be growing faster than is typical for children his age. A brain scan revealed a tumor containing structures that looked very similar to teeth normally found in the lower jaw.”
After an analysis of the tumor tissue, doctors determined the young child was suffering from craniopharyngioma – a type of brain tumor that stems from embryonic tissue growing with the pituitary gland. The condition is most common in children, and can be detected with brain scans or x-rays which will show calcium deposits.
This type of tumor can also manifest itself in young dogs. The tumor can grow as large as a golf ball, but generally is self-contained and does not spread.
Dr. Narlin Beaty, a neurosurgeon at the University of Maryland Medical Center, performed the boy's surgery along Dr. Edward Ahn, of the Johns Hopkins Children's Center in Baltimore.
“It's not every day you see teeth in any type of tumor in the brain. In a craniopharyngiomas, it's unheard of,” Beaty said.
According to Beaty, the tumor “destroyed the normal connections in the brain that would allow certain hormones to be released,” meaning that the boy will need hormone replacements for the rest of his life.
Still, considering the seriousness of the surgery, the young boy is a medical miracle.
“He's doing extremely well, all things considered,” Beaty said. “This was a big tumor right in the center of his brain. Before the moderate surgical era this child would not have survived.”