A dead foetus of a twin was removed from the abdomen of a 14-day-old baby boy in a rare surgery.
Initially thought to be an over-sized abdominal tumour, the foetus was removed from the yet-to-be named child’s abdomen during a two-hour long surgery at SDM Medical Hospital in Dharwad, a city in the Indian state of Karnataka.
“The case was referred from a nearby hospital. There was a tumour-like structure inside the baby’s abdomen but soon we realised that it was the baby’s ill-fated twin that had failed to successfully separate and grow,” said paediatric surgeon Dr Venkatesh M. Annigeri, who performed the surgery along with three other doctors.
Dr Annigeri said that it was a very challenging surgery as the foetus was stuck in pelvis and retroperitoneum.
“It was a low birth weight baby, very minute structures, anaesthesia complications, and the foetus was adherent to vital structures of the baby. It was only for the second time that I have come across such a rare case in my long medical career,” he said.
The rare condition is called “Foetus in Fetu” and is caused due to the incomplete separation of a twin, which fails to grow and instead becomes an internal part of the healthy and surviving twin.
Dr. Annigeri said that the condition could have been diagnosed during pregnancy had the mother underwent ultrasound.
“The mother had not underwent any ultrasounds during her pregnancy and I think, otherwise, it would have been diagnosed,” he said.
The parents had taken the baby to a nearby hospital after they noticed abdominal distension and difficulty in passing urine in the infant.
Abdominal distention basically occurs when accumulation of gas, fluid or solid in the abdomen causes the tummy to swell beyond normal limits. In this baby’s case it was due to the failed twin attached inside his abdominal cavity.
After the successful completion of the surgery, the baby recovered in neonatal intensive care unit of the hospital, and is now ready to be discharged and sent back home.