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Rare ‘human tail’ removed from 10-day old baby

Last Updated on Sunday, 25 June 2023, 17:25 by Denis Chabrol

Surgeons at the Georgetown Public Hospital (GPHC) have removed a very rare “human tail” from a 10-day old baby, the tertiaty health care institution said Sunday.

The successful surgery was conducted on the boy on June 18, 2023 by a medical team led by Chief Neurosurgeon, Dr. Amarnauth Dukhi.

The GPHC said the surgery included the reconstruction of the spinal canal,  a sophisticated technique which also required the protection of the patient’s spinal nerves.

The hospital said due to its extremely rare presentation, the occurrence of the human tail is a phenomenon of great interest to both the lay and medical cocommunity. The GPHC said that as a tertiary medical institution with a commitment to medical education and research in neurosurgery, GPHC will be presenting this case to the global medical community for documentation and review.

The infant has since been discharged from the hospital, GPHC said.

“The 10-day old baby was born with a tail which is basically a continuation of the spine/spinal nerve elements, this was surgically removed to allow the child an opportunity to develop normally,” GPHC said.

Doctors performing the surgery on the 10-day old boy to remove the human tail.

While a human baby having a caudal appendage resembling a tail generates an unusual amount of interest, excitement, and anxiety – often, parents may be concerned about the social stigma, superstition or shame that may befall their young child when they are integrated into society, the institution said.

“The unique presentation of a pathology such as the “human tail” is not only rare in Guyana, but the world. A rare congenital anomaly which mostly presents immediately after birth or in early childhood, there are less than 60 cases documented in medical literature of caudal appendage or the human tail,” the hospital added.

The hospital said a human tail is usually considered as a marker of underlying pathology of peculiar spinal dysraphism. “The reported presentations of spinal dysraphism includes spina bifida occulta, meningocele, and spinal lipoma or tethered spinal cord. However, the etiological basis of the human tail is not clear yet,” GPHC added in a statement.

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June 2023