Miracle Workers

Detroit surgeon team rebuilds man's trachea, restores voice after bout with rare cancer

(RxWiki News) According to a new report from Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, preserving a patient's voice and rebuilding the trachea is possible after removing an invasive throat tumor.

The case study of a 27-year-old man who had a large mass blocking 90 percent of his airway marks the first time a successful technique has been applied to restore a fully functional trachea, more commonly known as a windpipe. In this instance, the tumor, which is more commonly found in infants, had spread to the trachea, thyroid gland and surrounding muscle.

Instead of removing the trachea and voice box, disallowing the patient to speak or swallow normally, the medical team reconstructed the trachea using tissue and bone from the patient's arm, restoring airflow through the trachea and saving the patient's voice in the process.

This type of tumor is exceedingly rare, affecting only about 300 reported patients since 1854, when the first case was accurately diagnosed.

The patient is currently using a tracheostomy tube (a tube inserted into the trachea to assist with breathing), but the device is not expected to be used permanently.

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Review Date: 
January 31, 2011