The now 20-month-old Leyna Gonzalez had a bubble growing out of her mouth which is known as a fetal oral teratoma, a condition that occurs in approximately 1 in 100,000 pregnancies.
Tammy Gonzalez at a news conference on Thursday said, “At seventeen weeks, I went for a routine ultrasound. I see a bubble coming out of my daughter’s mouth, and automatically you can imagine what goes through your head. I was like, ‘what is this?’ No one could really give me an answer because it’s so rare.”
Tammy Gonzalez and her husband, Alain, were given options that consisted of aborting the baby or waiting for the baby to grow with the hopes of post-birth correction. The chances of the latter were slim and the tumor could grow up to two pounds and then raise the risk of bleeding to death.
That’s when they asked for another option and the case was handed over to Dr. Ruben Quintero, a pioneer in fetal medicine at the University of Miami.
In May 2010, Dr. Quintero and UM/Jackson fetal surgeon Eftichia Kontopoulos, M.D., operated on Tammy and baby Leyna in utero, using an endoscope guided by ultrasound. Using a laser, they resected the tumor and were able to clear the baby’s mouth. Tammy Gonzalez was under local anesthesia during the hour long procedure.
“I couldn’t feel the incision because of the local anesthetic, but I could feel the tube going into the sac. It felt like a popping balloon,” Tammy said during the news conference.
Once the tumor was removed Tammy explained the feeling, “The minute that it was finally severed off, it was like this huge weight had been lifted off of me, and it just floated away and I could finally see her face, and it was perfect.”
The peach-sized tumor was too big to remove through the tiny hole in the amniotic sac, so Dr’s left it to stay floating in the womb. By the time Tammy Gonzalez gave birth to her daughter Leyna, four months later, it had shrunk to the size of a Ritz cracker. On October 1 , 2010 Leyna was born healthy at 8 pounds, 1 ounce.
Doctors waited to report the details of the case in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology. To their knowledge, it is the first case of its kind. “The experience in this case suggests that fetoscopy can be of use in the detailed assessment of the lesion as well as potentially allowing resection of the mass in utero in selected cases. In utero endoscopic assessment or treatment may allow parents to make a better educated decision about their management of the pregnancy. If done early enough, as in our case, fetoscopic removal of the teratoma may avoid further growth of the mass,” the Doctor’s write.
Tumor Removed in Womb
Doctors Remove Tumor
Surgeons at the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Hospital, Dr Ruben Quintero and Dr Eftichia Kontopoulos, who had waited since 2010 to formally announce news of the pioneering operation in a scientific journal before going public.