Bengaluru: 53-year-old Rajesh (name changed) was working as an auto driver in Bengaluru when he developed an ulcer on his tongue two months ago. Since he had never consumed tobacco, he didn’t suspect anything serious out of the ulcer and initially resorted to local remedies. But when the issue persisted, a friend referred him to Dr Satish C, Consultant Surgical Oncologist at Trustwell hospital. The doctor suggested a CT scan and biopsy of the ulcer which revealed cancerous growth on half the tongue which extended to the lymph nodes of the neck.
In order to stop the spread of cancer, radical surgery was performed that involved removal of three fourth of the right tongue and lymph nodes from both sides of the neck.
After the removal of the cancerous growth, reconstructive surgery was done on 5th March 2021. Dr Satish C who performed the surgery stated, “Generally, a part of the flesh along with skin from patient’s outer body part is reframed into tongue and sewn together in such cases. But, we came up with a very unique solution for this case.”
The tongue is the strongest muscle in human body. It primarily facilitates eating and speaking. The moisture on the tongue is very much needed for us to speak clearly. General reconstruction with skin as the outer flap is very uncomfortable for patients. Because of hair follicles in them, there is always hair growth on the outer layer of the new tongue. Also, the skin is extremely dry compared to regular tongue which makes the patients feel thirsty always. To avoid these inconveniences, we harvested a part from the patient’s stomach and made it into the brand new tongue. The stomach flap was reversed to make the outer layer of the tongue.
The new tissue was then attached to the already present 25% of the remaining tongue. The complex surgery that lasted for 8 to 10 hours is fruitful now. Anesthetic team and post-surgery ICU care helped the patient greatly to recover well. The newly attached flap looks almost identical to his original tongue and stays moist. The patient is able to have normal food and also speaks well. This is a first-of-its-kind surgery in Karnataka and has successfully given hope to several such patients. The hospital has also given a considerable discount on the treatment cost, said the patient while thanking them.