The medical team had to do extensive pre-operative planning due to the multitude of potential hurdles that could arise during surgery.
A five-hour surgery may seem like a long operation. But in the context of a patient at Danbury Hospital in Connecticut who had a 132-pound tumor removed, five hours really doesn’t sound so bad.
The 38-year-old Connecticut woman was rapidly gaining weight — about ten pounds a week over the course of two months — before she consulted a gynecologist, who referred her to board-certified gynecologic oncologist Dr. Vaagn Andikyan. A CT scan then revealed a large ovarian mass; a 132-pound tumor on the woman’s abdomen.
“I might expect to see a 25-pound ovarian tumor, but a 132-pound tumor is very rare. When I met the patient, she was extremely malnourished because the tumor was sitting on her digestive tract, and she used a wheelchair because of the tumor’s weight,” said Andikyan.
The tumor originated in the ovary’s epithelial cells, which are cells that line the organs and act as a safety shield for the body. They are also often the first place that viruses attempt to attack. It was “mucinous,” which means it was filled with a gelatin-like substance.
Although the tumor was benign, doctors were concerned about the patient’s heart because the mass was sitting on a major blood vessel.
Before the surgery could happen, the medical team had to do extensive pre-operative planning due to the multitude of unknowns and potential hurdles that could arise during surgery. For two weeks, the team ran through and developed five different potential scenarios.
On the day of the surgery, 25 clinical specialists partook in the operation. They decided to perform the removal and the abdominal reconstruction at the same time in order to reduce the number of future surgeries the patient would have to undergo.
The patient weighed 350 pounds and she was unable to walk to do extreme leg swelling.
The surgery wasn’t entirely smooth sailing. As soon as the tumor started to be removed, the woman’s blood pressure started dropping. An anesthesiologist and cardiologist had to work extra hard to maintain the blood pressure, particularly when the tumor was lifted off of the patient’s major blood vessels.
Ultimately, the five-hour surgery was a success. The medical team was able to remove the entire 132-pound tumor, six pounds of abdominal wall tissue, and excess skin that had been stretched.
“We were able to save her reproductive organs,” said Andikyan. The patient, who wished to remain anonymous, went home just two weeks after and is expected to make a full recovery. She has already returned to her job as a teacher.
Meanwhile, doctors want to know why the tumor grew so quickly. To understand this and learn from the case, they are currently conducting genetic tests.
If you found this article interesting, you may also want to read about the time doctors removed the world’s largest brain tumor. Then read about Leonid Ivanovich Rogozov, the doctor who removed his own appendix.