Doctors remove lung, part of heart, blood vessel in rare surgery

Doctors remove lung, part of heart, blood vessel in rare surgery

The Thymus gland tumour, a lethal medical condition, had spread, in the right lung, heart and its protective membrane and the crucial artery Superior Vena Cava which carries blood from lungs to heart, of this 26-year old youth.

Doctors at AIIMS have tried the surgery on nearly seven patients as treatment for Thymus gland tumor, which in the past remained an untouched and inoperable area by the medical fraternity in the country.

The thymus gland lies in the centre of the chest behind the breast bone. It makes special white blood cells which help to fight infection.
"Though the proffered mode of treatment for this tumor is surgical resection, but in India a tumour in the Thymus gland is an inoperable and untouched area by the medical fraternity. Patients with this ailment are allowed to die a slow death," Dr Shiv Kumar Choudhary, additional professor, cardiothoracic and vascular surgery said.

Radiotherapy and chemotherapy, tried generally for almost all types for tumours but remains a controversy when its use is considered for treatment of this area involving the heart because of its risky nature.

"This condition has been found in patients in the age group of 25 and 40 years. Patients from different hospitals were referred to us. We tried radiotherapy and chemotherapy but it did no wonders. Seeing so many deaths, we decided to plunge in for the surgical option," Dr Arvind Kumar, professor, department of surgery said.

"Symptoms of a Thymus gland tumour include chest pain, a persistent cough, shortness of breath, difficulty swallowing, hoarseness of voice, swelling of the neck due to the tumour pressing on blood vessels in the chest -- this is called Superior Vena Cava Obstruction (SVCO).

"Aggressive resection is the only mode of treatment. The functional capacity of the individual is reduced but the longevity has been increased," Dr Choudhary said.