Pregnancy in the Brain?

It is the unlikeliest place you would imagine a foetus to grow. We know of ectopic pregnancy but what can we call this? Foetus in the brain, not of its expectant mother, but of its twin sister!

For Yamini Karanam, the nightmare began in September 2014. Worried that she was getting lost in conversations, and as a student she was finding it difficult understanding things she had read, Karanam decided to visit the hospital.
The medical report was not only a shocker to her but even Hrayr Shahinian, the medical expert at the Skullbase Institute in Los Angeles, United States, US, who attended to her.pregnancy

Surgeons operating to extract what they believed could be a tumour in Karanam’s brain made a startling discovery that the growth was, in fact, an embryonic twin, complete with bone, hair and teeth.

Known as brain teratoma, the growth is a rare medical condition. For instance, out of 7,000 brain tumours Shahinian has removed as a surgeon, only two were teratomas.

In the past, teratomas have been reported to contain hair, teeth, bone and, in rare occasions eyes, hands, feet and limbs. But how exactly did Karanam feel bearing this health burden for 26 years? “If a couple of people were talking in a room, I wouldn’t understand what was happening,” said the 26-year-old who is a PhD student at Indiana University, US.

To reach Karanam’s brain for the procedure, Shahinian and his team at the Skullbase Institute had to adopt what they called a minimally invasive way of reaching deep into a person’s brain to extract tumours. According to Shahinian, the procedure is a type of keyhole surgery rather than traditional brain surgery, which involves opening the skull and using metal retractors to allow him to insert a microscope deep into the brain.

Shocked when she awoke to learn of Shahinian’s discovery, Karanam branded the tumour her “evil twin sister who has been torturing me for the past 26 years.”

Whereas Shahinian had feared the tumour could be cancerous, tests revealed the mass was benign, and Karanam is expected to make a full recovery in the next two weeks.

Karanam may have cleared her first hurdle of freeing herself from her “evil twin sister” who probably mistook brain for womb. It is however yet to be seen how her newfound freedom will enable her concentrate in school.

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