London: Surgeons were able to successfully remove a tumour from the mouth of a foetus, in what has been described as a “world first” procedure.
After a scan at 17 weeks, mother Tammy Gonzalez said that she "could see a bubble" coming out of her baby``s mouth.
Doctors said it was a very rare tumour called an oral teratoma and there was little chance her daughter would survive.
After the pioneering operation, baby Leyna was born five months later.
Doctors at the Jackson Memorial Hospital in Florida, revealed that this type of tumour was so rare that it had been seen only once in 20 years at the hospital.
In the procedure, Gonzalez was put under a local anaesthetic as a needle was pushed through the protective amniotic sac around the foetus.
A laser was then used to cut the tumour from Leyna``s lips. The operation took just over an hour.
“When they finally severed the whole thing off and I could see it floating down, it was like this huge weight had been lifted off me and I could finally see her face,” the BBC quoted her as saying at a press conference in Miami.
She described the surgeons as “saviours”.
“To our knowledge, this is the first successful treatment of a foetal oral teratoma in utero,” the doctors said.
Leyna Mykaella Gonzalez, who was born in October 2010 weighing 8lb 1oz, is now a healthy 20-month-old child.
The only sign of her life-saving surgery is a tiny scar on her mouth.
The details have only just emerged after the operation was reported in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.