KEY POINTS

  • The baby had a spinal cord anomaly with a tail at the upper back and a dermal sinus pit in the coccygeal area
  • The surgery was conducted when the baby was just 14-day-old
  • The procedure was conducted by neurosurgeons in the eastern Indian state of Odisha

A newborn baby who was born with a rare human tail in India underwent a surgery to fix the rare anomaly. The procedure was conducted by neurosurgeons at the Institute of Medical Sciences and SUM Hospital in the eastern state of Odisha.

The baby, who has not been identified, was diagnosed with a spinal cord anomaly right after being born last year November. The infant's parents panicked after they saw a bony tail-like growth on the back of their child. The parents later brought the newborn to the hospital located in the city of Bhubaneswar where doctors conducted an investigation.

Neurosurgeon Dr. Rama Chandra Deo told the New Indian Express that the baby had a spinal cord anomaly with a tail at the upper back and a dermal sinus pit in the coccygeal area (the final bone in the vertebral column that surrounds the spinal cord).

“Although 26 cases of the bony tail have been reported in the world so far, this is the only known case of a bony human tail in the thoracic region (located in the upper and middle part of the back). In earlier cases, the tails have been spotted at the lower end of spine in the coccygeal region,” Deo said.

According to several studies, all fetuses develop an embryonic tail while in the womb around the fourth week of gestation, but it is usually reabsorbed back into the body by the eighth week, forming the vestigial tail bone or coccyx.

“True bony human tail is exceedingly rare. In the initial days, certain cases with the growth of hair, skin, or flesh have been cited as bony tails. But now a bony tail is considered to be documented only if it has a bony core with muscular attachment and skin cover,” Dr Deo said.

A team of neurosurgeons led by Vice-Chancellor of Siksha 'O' Anusandhan (SOA) University Prof. Ashok Kumar Mahapatra conducted the surgery and removed the tail. While the surgery was conducted when the baby was just 14-day-old, reports about the case were published recently.

“It is a very unique case. The baby had three other medical issues as well. It was extremely difficult. We conducted three operations at a time and it took four hours. All should know about the rare operation that has been possible in Odisha, so that they don’t panic if they happen to face the issue,” Mahapatra said, according to News 18.

newborn-1399155_640 representational image Photo: pixabay