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World’s first baby with bony tail in thoracic region operated upon in Odisha

Neurosurgeons at the Institute of Medical Sciences and SUM Hospital, Bhubaneswar, have come across a baby with a rare human tail, which is the first bony tail in the thoracic region to be reported in the world.

The bony tail was found on the back of a newborn baby from the Kakatpur area in the Puri district. The baby was born in last November. Suspecting it to be a rare disease, panicked parents of the infant had brought him to SUM hospital for treatment.

During the investigation, the doctors found the tail-like growth on the baby’s spinal cord. Neurosurgeon Dr Rama Chandra Deo said the newborn baby had a spinal cord anomaly with a tail at the upper back and a dermal sinus pit in the coccygeal area.

“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. In earlier cases, the tails have been spotted at the lower end of spine in the coccygeal region,” he said.

Most people are not born with a tail because the structure disappears or absorbs into the body during foetal development and forms the vestigial tail bone or coccyx.

The human tail is a rare congenital condition. As per the existing medical literatures, the presence of bony tails in humans are being reported since 1880. A total of 195 cases have been documented so far and 26 among them were people with actual bony tails.

“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. So far 26 such cases have been classified,” Dr Deo said.

After the baby was detected with a rare bony tail, a team of neurosurgeons led by Vice-Chancellor of SOA University Prof Ashok Kumar Mahapatra conducted surgery and removed the tail. The baby was 14-day-old when the surgery was conducted.

“It was a unique case of the true thoracic bony human tail. The baby has successfully undergone three surgeries in one sitting and has been doing well. It is a rare case and the process has begun to properly document it for future generations,” Prof Mahapatra, an eminent neurosurgeon said.

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