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Monday, December 22nd 2008

A Mature Tumor

While I was away on the interview trail a very interesting story hit the media wires. In Colorado a pediatric neurosurgeon went in to sample/remove a tumor from a young child’s brain. What he found was that the tumor contained fully formed anatomical parts. Included was a fully formed foot.

“It looked like the breech delivery of a baby, coming out of the brain,” Grabb said. “To find a perfectly formed structure (like this) is extremely unique, unusual, borderline unheard of.”


Sam’s parents, Tiffnie and Manuel Esquibel, said their son is at home now but faces monthly blood tests to check for signs of cancer or regrowth, along with physical therapy to improve the use of his neck. But they say he has mostly recovered from the Oct. 3 surgery.

“You’d never know if he didn’t have a scar there,” Tiffnie Esquibel said.

The question is how did this happen.

The Foot In Surgery

Teratomas are a type of germ cell tumor which can occur in the brain. They develop from embryological cell lines and often develop characteristic mature tissue including skin, hair, teeth. Cases have certainly been reported of even more complex structures appearing in teratomas, including eyes. Approximately one hundred cases of a situation called fetus in fetu have been reported. In such cases a born child ends up having parts of his assumed twin growing somewhere inside of him. Fetus in fetu often have even more complex structures, including what often appear as fully formed limbs and organ systems. As in this case.

I’m not sure if a case of fetus in fetu has ever been reported inside the cranium. Still, teratomas often occur there and in some people’s opinion fetus in fetu should be considered a highly rare form of teratoma. In anycase, this is an incredibly rare and interesting discovery. My thoughts are with the family but if the AP report is to be believed the kid is doing well.