A path-breaking surgery has helped an infant to recover from a facial disfigurement and life threatening ailment owing to a tumor in the jaw bone. The boy’s parents were very worried and they had approached many centers across the globe but the doctors there were hesitant to treat the one-year-old Maldivian boy due to the complexity of his condition. Dr. S.M. Balaji renowned for his expertise and dedication in Maxillofacial surgery successfully accomplished this complex task.
The Maldivian boy Saalik was 1 year old when he was referred to the hospital. He was suffering from a rare form of jaw bone disease called Osteodystrophy. It is a kind of tumor wherein the jaw bone dissolves gradually and gets replaced by soft tissues. Owing to this, his face was disfigured and his ability to eat and speak was becoming increasingly difficult. The disease severity was rapidly increasing from the time he was just 8 months of age.
Conventionally, for such cases, the only treatment is surgery which should be done when most of the growth ceases, i.e. at about 15 years of age. But in this instance, the extent of the tumor was vast involving the entire upper jaw and almost whole of lower jaw except the jaw joints. Distorted jaws will impede the growth of other facial bones also. Hence the only option was to intervene surgically immediately.
In a six-hour surgery, the diseased portions of upper and lower jaws were removed. A bone graft was taken from the boy’s rib and along with a customized imported Titanium plate was used to reconstruct the jaws. To enhance bone healing rhBMP-2 was also placed.
Recombinant human Bone Morphogenetic Protein is a scientifically prepared version of a protein that is already present in the body that promotes new bone growth. It stimulates the patients’ own cells to rapidly form new bone and quickly heals bony defects. This miracle protein also finds use in treatment of other maxillofacial defects like cysts and fractures. Other than the US, this centre is the only facility in this part of the world to adopt this technology with great success.
The widespread extent and severity of the disease and that too at such a young age complicated the problem. Microvascular surgery is tough due to the very fine blood vessel structures. Surgical strategies were planned meticulously using advanced CT scans. The innovative 3-in-1 surgery avoided the need for further surgeries. For the first time such an attempt to completely rehabilitate the tumor in a single stage was done.
The highlight of the surgery was that the entire procedure was done from inside his mouth so there will not be any visible scars on the child’s face. Following good new bone formation, his rehabilitation was completed with dental implants and fixed ceramic crown prosthesis to replace his missing teeth. He is able to eat and chew well. The boy’s parents are very happy that their child’s ailment has been successfully treated and that he is able to breathe, eat and speak well while at the same time his facial appearance is also normal again.
Saalik’s positive response and normal health have showed us how this surgery and stem cells treatment can be potentially used for reconstruction.