Isra Oman Mohammad Haji
Isra Oman Mohammad Haji Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: A 13-year old girl, who became paralysed due to a rare tumour on her spine, can now walk again after surgeons in Dubai conducted a 12-hour surgery on her.

Abu Dhabi resident Isra Oman Mohammad Haji, a Somali, was a very active schoolgirl until 2018, when she suddenly became paralysed from waist down, said Dr Nicandro Figueiredo, specialist neurospinal surgeon at Medcare Orthopaedics and Spine Hospital.

“The patient was suffering from a aneurysmal bone cyst (ABC), a rare spinal tumour which was compressing her back bone. I have encountered this tumour for the first time in UAE,” Dr Figuerido said.

The tumour was very bad and Isra had visited another surgeon, who cut out the bone to decompress the area.

“When she came to me her spine was bent at an angle of 81 degrees,” Dr Figuerido said.

Working with his team in a 12-hour procedure, they not only removed the bone and fixed six screws, but also completely took out the tumour to correct her curvature to 38 degrees.

NAT Dr Nicandro -Medcare Hospital-1582291167202
Dr Nicandro Figueiredo, specialist neurospinal surgeon at Medcare Orthopaedics and Spine Hospital. Image Credit: Supplied

“The surgery was conducted last year and it has taken some time for the patient to undergo intensive physio-therapy and resume normal life,” Dr Figueiredo said. “She is now able to walk again.”

“We followed image guided neuro-navigation using 3D real-time image during the procedure,” he said.

ABC is a benign, uncommon lesion representing 1.4 per cent of primary bone tumours of the spine. According to neurosurgeons, it is a highly destructive tumour, occurring in less than 1 in 100,000 people per year. If left untreated, ABCs can be dangerous, especially if they are in a bone near a critical structure that might be injured should the bone break. This is especially true of ABCs in the skull or spine.

The surgery was very challenging, Dr Figuerido said.

“It felt like the patient was getting worse midway through the surgery and we had to stabilise her.

“Even after the surgery it appeared as though her condition was worse, but eventually, as she stabilised, she completely recovered her sensation and movement,” he added.

Post-surgery, the patient was treated by Medcare Orthopaedic and Spine Hospital’s multidisciplinary team and discharged a week later.

“She had a very good neurological recovery of her paralysis and has already started walking independently without support. She has also had a very good correction of her spinal deformity, reducing her spinal curvature from 81° to 38°,” said Dr Figueiredo who added that there was a 30 per cent chance of the tumour recurring in the first five years.

Isra has continued with her regular follow ups — which include an X-ray of the spine at regular monthly intervals and a spinal MRI once a year — that have so far shown her to be tumour-free.

Speaking to Gulf News Isra’s mother said: “I would like to express my deepest appreciation and gratitude to the team that operated on my daughter Isra and extended support to her throughout her illness. It’s with God’s grace she has had full recovery. I am so happy to see her walk again.”