New surgical approach can remove throat tumor and rebuild trachea

Using a novel surgical approach, it’s possible to rebuild the trachea and preserve a patient’s voice after removing an invasive throat tumor, according to a new report from Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.

After a biopsy and other tests, Henry Ford doctors determined the mass was a malignant immature teratoma – a cancerous tumor that was quickly spreading throughout the areas of the patient’s trachea and surrounding structures.

Such tumors are extremely rare; since the first reported case in 1854, there have only been 300 other reported cases.

With the Henry Ford patient, surgeons first removed the tumor and about half of the patient’s airway, just below the voice box.

Using bone and skin from the patient’s arm and two titanium plates, surgeon’s reconstructed the airway, providing it with full coverage and allowing it to be fully functional.

Reconstruction of the trachea is challenging, due to the structural complexity and unique properties of the airway. The ideal reconstruction must not collapse during respiration and have some degree of mobility to allow for neck movement.

Currently the patient is using a tracheostomy tube – a tube that is inserted into an opening in the trachea to assist with breathing – but the surgeons do not expect it to be permanent. The patient, however, is able to speak and swallow normally. He also underwent chemotherapy as part of his treatment.

Source: Henry Ford Health System

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