This is how a simple appendectomy can turn into a full blown monster hunt! Japanese surgeons have found a terrifying clump of hair, bone, and a tiny, malformed brain, from a teenage girl’s ovary during what was supposed to be a routine operation. According to a paper recently published in Neuropathology, the surgery resulted in the discovery of this 10-centimetre freak show while the 16-year-old female patient was undergoing a run-of-the-mill appendectomy.
The nightmarish thing on her ovaries had hair, bone, and even a tiny malformed brain. Scientifically, this kind of tumor is a known as a mature cystic teratoma, when the Greek word ‘teratoma’ aptly means monster. This phenomenon becomes apparent when a mass of cells grows into different tissue types inside any part of the body, which could consist of bones, nerves, hair, and even teeth. The good thing is that these are generally benign tumors surrounded by a capsule, which makes them easy to remove.
While parasitic twins result from a separate embryo, teratomas are created from our own errant cells failing to control the growth. In the Japanese girl’s case, the egg ignored all signals asking it to wane away, and not only did the cells divide, but they started taking the shape of hair follicles and bone covering a brain-like structure.
And while you might be freaked out at the news, roughly 20 percent of ovarian tumors have differentiated tissues, which make teratomas surprisingly common. These tumors are not fatal but can become dangerous if the immune system starts to recognize them as a cancer threat which results in a self-harming situation for the person’s brain and body.
Luckily for this patient, no symptoms of an immune system attack were seen.
Angelique Riepsamen from the University of New South Wales spoke to New Scientist:
“Neural elements similar to that of the central nervous system are frequently reported in ovarian teratomas, but structures resembling the adult brain are rare.”
In 2002, a similar tumor with developing organs, head, body and even a penis was removed from a 25-year-old Japanese woman.
Stuff straight from the horror movies! We wish a speedy recovery to the patient following her surgery.