Normally doctors try to keep your blood stream clean of cholesterol – otherwise you might get a clot that will stop the blood flow and kill you. In this case, the doctors reckoned that they could induce an artificial clot (called an embolism) right at the site of the artery branching off to the tumor to block the blood flow and attempt to choke it off from oxygen and food – this way, when they ressect the tumor there would be less risk of bleeding. So, they used a commercial product called Gelitaspon (small gelatin sponges) and injected some in the artery leading into the tumor. You can see here that this successfully reduced the blood flow to the teratoma:
Saturday, January 29, 2011
God Fucks Up: Science Saves the Day
For all of those out there who might still believe in a god, your god is a douchebag – unless, of course, you think that human life results from an embryo naturally developing from the fusion of a sperm and an egg (which is susceptible to teratogens, natural genetic aberrations, environmental influence, etc.). Otherwise, some deity just gave a pre-born baby a giant deadly tumor that weighs more than the baby itself (pictures below). Oh, and if you think there's a god behind the natural events leading to human life, I’m sure you also think a god is responsible for creating the universe. If so, your god is also responsible for everything in it, including the natural phenomena that lead to deadly cancers. Try as he/she/it might, even divine corruption did not stop doctors from blocking the evil masterwork of giving a baby in gestation a giant tumor.
The fascinating story was recently published in the Journal of Pediatric Surgery entitled: “Preoperative embolization of giant sacrococcygeal teratoma in a premature newborn”. In other words, “We [doctors] cured a prematurely born baby of a deadly tumor that weighs more than the baby itself.” This was no small feat – your god has had … well … an eternity to perfect the art of giving living things cancer – scientists and doctors have only had a hundred years or so to really fight back. Great news: we’re getting better at beating god’s evil plans! In fact, this particular method of foiling god’s cancer plans has only been used once before.
At about 20 weeks of pregnancy the large tumor was identified as a sacrococcygeal teratoma, or SCT. Teratomas are special tumors that can also be very dangerous – they originate from your germ cells (the cells that make sperm or egg depending on if you’re a male or a female). SCTs are one of the most common forms of teratomas because they arise in the pelvic region, right where germ cells can end up if they get off track from your gonads. In this particular case, the mother was immediately give corticosteroid treatment to ease her immune system and protect the baby. This particular tumor was immature meaning that it had very aggressive and potentially malignant cells inside it. After close monitoring of the mother and unborn child, the mother suddenly entered labor at 30 weeks and the doctors had to perform a C-section. This is what they found attached to the baby after delivering her:
The combined weight of baby and tumor was 3.43 kg. The tumor itself weighed (1.86 kg) more than the baby (1.57 kg)! Unfortunately these kinds of tumors are very dangerous to cut off (ressect) because of the huge risk of bleeding. The bigger the tumor, the bigger the arteries carrying blood, the bigger the risk of the baby bleeding to death before the doctors can save her. Fortunately, the doctors have science on their side. After taking a picture called an arteriogram, the doctors were able to see the main artery that was sourcing the blood to the tumor (see the arrow):
At this point the doctors ressected the tumor and the bleeding was minimal. Unfortunately there was a lot of cell death from the tumor that had still managed to circulate in the baby’s bloodstream (hemolysis) which caused major problems, culminating in a full on cardiac arrest (heart attack). The baby’s heart stopped for a full 6 minutes. SIX MINUTES! I guess god really didn’t want this baby to be born.
Fortunately, doctors provided injections of gluconate, insulin, adrenalin, hydrocortisone, and other science-y drugs that saved the baby’s life. After 6.5 weeks the baby was allowed to leave the hospital and has been receiving monthly checkups every since. Despite a solid effort by your god, the baby survived.
If you’re someone who likes to give a god credit for things like the sunrise, the ocean’s tides, the formation of the grand canyon, and/or the “miracle” of human life, then it’s high time you also start giving your god credit for the viruses, bacteria, and cancers that are so good at destroying human beings. Let’s face it – if you think a god is behind the scenes of nature, then to human beings, your god is a douchebag.