Doctors use tissue from forearm to recreate part of tongue

Updated: Apr 22, 2010, 00:00 AM IST

New Delhi: A cancer patient has got his
speech back after doctors recreated a portion of his
tongue, which was removed because of the disease, using
tissues from his forearm.

"The entire left side of his tongue was chopped off due
to cancer. We took a portion of tissue from his forearm and
reconstructed it," Dr Sunil Choudhary, Senior Consultant
Plastic Surgeon, Max Super Speciality Hospital, said.

"This reconstruction was mainly done to give him back his
ability to talk and also relieve him from further
complications that would follow if it is not repaired," he

46-year-old Nitin Pandey, a paediatrician from Dehradun,
was in Delhi to get treated for cancer in the tongue. It was
posing problem for him while talking, swallowing and chewing.

His cancer had extended to such an extent that doctors at Max
hospital were compelled to chop off half of his tongue.

"We could not leave him with half a tongue. It would
pose additional problems for him. Even after being relieved
from cancer, he would not be able to eat, drink. We would have
to insert a tube in the stomach for feeding him and he would
have to depend on liquid diet," Choudhary said.

Hence, doctors took a portion of his forearm and gave it
a shape of half a tongue and attached it to the remaining
half. "The forearm tissue is soft and supple and can be folded
and as such best suited for the replacement," the doctor said.

The surgery was carried out using a operating microscope.

"Since it was a tissue transplant that involved
transferring artery and vein including matching them with
those in the reconstructive site, need for a microscope was
inevitable," he said.

Pandey now is back to his to his normal life. The clarity
in his voice does not give any clue that he had undergone a
surgery of the tongue.

"I am able to talk and eat. There is no dependence on
tubes or anything," Pandey said.