A 51-year-old woman from Tiruvallur recently underwent a surgery to remove a tumour in her throat at the Government General Hospital here.

A team of 15 doctors, including ENT surgeons, gastroenterologists and anaesthetists, were present during the six-hour surgery, which involved removing her voice box, oesophagus, a portion of her carotid vein and the thyroid gland.

The woman had approached the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital after visiting several other hospitals, where doctors gave her little hope.

“She had been unable to even drink water when she came to us on November 23. We had to undertake extensive investigations before we could consider surgery,” said gastroenterologist G. Manoharan, who performed part of the surgery.

“The tumour had spread locally to the food pipe from the base of the tongue and had damaged the voice box too. A node from the tumour was sitting on the carotid artery and vein. As we could not sacrifice the artery, we removed some parts of the carotid vein. We removed the oesophagus also and a portion of the stomach was moved up to form the oesophagus,” he added.

ENT surgeon R. Muthukumar removed the voice box, the thyroid and the parathyroid glands. “The tumour was very large but we managed to remove it. Luckily it had not spread to other parts of the body though she had come in the third stage of cancer,” the doctor said. In the next few weeks, the woman will undergo a procedure to fix an artificial voice box and she will also be given speech therapy, said head of ENT and head and neck surgery, G. Sunder Krishnan. According to dean V. Kanagasabai, the surgery in a private hospital could cost up to Rs. 6 lakh but at the GH it was done free of cost under the Chief Minister’s comprehensive health insurance scheme.

On the reason for delay in the surgery the doctors said the woman was very weak and would not have withstood the post-operative period. “The stitches would have come apart as her albumin levels were very low. We had to stabilise her before surgery could considered,” he said. The surgery was done on December 23, a month after she was admitted to the hospital.

She would be discharged in a few days but would have to come for further treatment and follow-up, doctors said.

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