A man, who had been suffering from a massive tumour in his tongue, was losing hope that he would be able to speak again - until a six-hour surgery in the emirate turned his life around.
A surgical team from the Sheikh Khalifa Specialty Hospital in Ras Al Khaimah and the Seoul National University Hospital in South Korea managed to remove the huge, cancerous tumour, cutting off half of the patient's tongue and replacing it with a flap from his right thigh.
The hospital's chief executive, Dr Myung Whun Sung, told Khaleej Times that the Emirati patient, who is in his 60s, had been suffering from the tongue tumour for almost a year before the surgery was done.
"The type of the 4-by-2-by-1.5-cm tumour was confirmed by a tissue biopsy performed in the hospital, following which the patient underwent several evaluations to ensure that the tumour had not spread to his other organs."
Tests confirmed that the tumour on the right part of the patient's tongue was malignant, Dr Sung said.�
A joint team under his supervision carefully planned the surgery and evaluated what needed to be done to successfully replace the resected portion.
"The medical team included renowned professor Won Shik Kim, a consultant reconstructive head and neck surgeon at Seoul National University Hospital."
It took the team six full hours to complete the surgery, Dr Sung said. "The right half of the tongue was removed, and many lymph nodes were also removed from the neck.
Then, a flap with the skin has been harvested from right thigh with its own blood vessels. It was revascularised with neck blood vessels to fill up the resected part of the tongue."
After the operation's success, the patient was placed under close observation in the intensive care unit for five days. He was then transferred to a ward, where he completed a two-week treatment.
"During the hospital admission period, the patient was trained to move the new tongue for speaking and swallowing and other possible functions. After these two weeks, he returned home safely."
Treatment of cancer, according to Dr Sung, is fast evolving. In this case, the 'comprehensive removal and functional reconstruction' method allowed the experts to get rid of all cancer tissues while keeping other healthy tissues intact.
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