Friday, December 19, 2008

Term of the Day: teratoma

Here's the Wikipedia definition of teratoma:
A teratoma is a kind of tumor (neoplasm). Definitive diagnosis of a teratoma is based on its histology: a teratoma is a tumor with tissue or organ components resembling normal derivatives of all three germ layers. Rarely, not all three germ layers are identifiable. The tissues of a teratoma, although normal in themselves, may be quite different from surrounding tissues, and may be highly inappropriate, even grotesque: teratomas have been reported to contain hair, teeth, bone and very rarely more complex organs such as eyeball, torso, and hand.
Emphasis added. It's of course the latter type that get all the attention. This ABC news story might be about a teratoma:

A doctor in Colorado found a surprise when removing what he thought was a benign growth from a newborn's brain. Instead of a microscopic tumor, out popped a tiny foot, partially formed hand, a thigh and another partially formed foot.
"It would be a shock to even the most experienced pathologist cutting into a tumor to see this," Dr. Paul Grabb told the ABC affiliate KMGH.

Grabb said he could not tell whether the miniature limbs were from a benign stem cell tumor called a teratoma or the remnants of an identical twin that did not split off and survive, a condition called fetus in fetu [Wikipedia].

"It looked like the breach delivery of a baby, coming out of the brain," Grabb told The Associated Press. "To find a perfectly formed structure is extremely unique, unusual, borderline unheard of."

(HT: Silvia Bunge via Facebook)

If you want to squick yourself out, do a Google image search of teratoma or look at this series of "medical marvels" images from ABC.

I'm traumatized. To calm myself down, I think I'm going to read a bunch of Stephen King stories and watch a bunch of horror movies.

Now my wife is scaring me by saying that she has taratomas and that they're going to come out and get me. Save me.


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