Fortis Hospital performs rare tongue reconstruction surgery on a cancer patient

Doctors from Fortis Hospital, Nagarbhavi, Bangalore successfully performed a free flap surgery (reconstruct of tongue) on a 37 year old man who was diagnosed with. The team of doctors led by Dr Susheen Dutt, Consultant ENT, Head and Neck Surgeon at the Fortis Hospitals Nagarbhavi, Bangalore used the rare technique of extracting tissue from patient’s arm for this process.

The patient Bala (name changed) complained of ulcer on the tongue associated with bleeding which was not healing since three months. Initially, it was a pea sized ulcer which grew up to 3*3cms.

Dr Susheen Dutt, Consultant ENT, Head and Neck Surgeon, Fortis Hospitals, Bangalore said, “Bala came to us with the complaint of ulcer on tongue which did not heal for 3 months. There was a visible growth on the tongue surface and the diagnosis is confirmed by biopsy and histopathology. The reports indicated that the patient is suffering from cancer. After a lot of team discussions, we suggested a radial forearm free flap, i.e. a tongue reconstruction surgery using tissue from his forearm.”

In radial forearm free flap surgery tissue from, arm muscle can be used to replace parts of the mouth, throat, or jawbone which are need of repair.

Speaking about the entire procedure, Dr Susheen Dutt added, “The free flap surgery is a rare process and is not commonly performed as it is time consuming and can last ten to twelve hours. In this surgery part of the tongue with cancer was removed. Soft tissue from forearm was removed with corresponding artery and vein and connected to the neck vessels. This involves delicate plastic surgery wherein forearm tissue forms the newly transplanted tongue which helps the patient eat and speak normally. We have removed the left lymph nodes from the neck to make sure cancer doesn’t spread in future.”

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