17 May 2011
By Pratibha Masand
Mamta Pani (40) came to Mumbai with a heavy heart, literally. She could hardly breathe or walk. Scans revealed that she had a tumour the size of an infant’s feeding bottle growing in her heart. Early this month, the tumour was removed at a city hospital in a rare surgery.
During the surgery, the doctors realized that the tumour had eaten up a major part of the heart’s right valve, called the tricuspid valve. "(It) was completely damaged. We had to use the pericardium (the thin membrane covering the heart) to reconstruct the damaged valve after removing the tumour," said Dr Panda, who in 2009 lead a team of surgeons that operated on prime minister Manmohan Singh.
Cardiac experts say living with such a big tumour in the heart is no mean feat. "It is rare to find a myxoma of such dimensions," said Dr N Bansal, cardiology head, J J Hospital. "Left-side myxomas are more common than right-side ones. They can cause leg and facial swelling, and liver congestion. The pumping part of the heart is not affected as such, but the sheer size of the tumour can create difficulty in breathing and thus prove fatal."
"Generally, such tumours are benign. So, left alone, they can keep getting big till their sheer size can kill the patient by intrusion damage to other vital organs. (Pani’s case) shows (she) must have neglected her symptoms for a long time," said Dr Sudanshu Bhattacharya, cardio-vascular surgeon from Bombay Hospital.
Six months ago, Pani, who lives in Orissa, underwent surgery in Pune for the tumour’s removal. But it grew back. She came to Mumbai last month. "After the surgery in Pune, we thought she would be fine. In Mumbai, the doctors told us the tumour was growing back," said Chandrashekhar, Pani’s husband, a farmer. "I had to sell part of my land to get her operation done."
Myxoma, a Rare Cardiac Affliction
- A myxoma is a rare, usually noncancerous, tumour of the heart. But of all benign heart tumours, it is the most common
- 75% of myxomas are found in the left atrium (one of the four chambers of the heart), and almost all of the rest in the right
- It is rare for a myxoma to be found in either of the ventricles (the lower chambers of the heart)
- The tumour takes either of two general shapes—round and firm or irregular, soft and gelatinous
The myxoma afflicting Mamta Pani weighed 150 gm and was shaped like a 17-cm-long baby feeding bottle It grew in the right ventricle It had damaged her heart’s tricuspid valve, which had to be reconstructed with the organ’s covering membrane