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Doctors Come Up With Unique Treatment for Large Tumor on 1-Year-Old Girl's Face


Thanks to a unique, dual approach, a 1-year-old from New York is having a massive tumor safely removed from her face. 

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When Camila Alzate, of Queens, was born, her mother Angela Alzate knew that a slight swelling on the right side of her face was cause for concern.

And she guessed right — doctors soon found a tumor pressing right against the baby's skull, preventing normal development, CBS New York reported.

According to a Northwell Health press release, Camila's face had a rare venous malformation, filled with a group of thick, dialated veins. Dr. Rafael Ortiz, who treated Camila, described it as a tumor made of veins.

Even though doctors said the tumor was not cancerous, it continued to grow.

But, doctors were nervous at first about surgically removing it, saying that it would be extremely risky, especially since Camila was due for her first procedure at just 5-months-old.

According to Dr. Nicholas Bastidas from the Cohen Children's Medical Center, navigating blood loss is trickier on infants since they have less blood than adult patients. In addition, the area they would operate on involves a complicated group of blood vessels, where surgeons would likely encounter a dangerous amount of bleeding.

Doctors also reported that another worry was that the procedure would paralyze her face.

So, doctors came up with a unique, dual approach. They would treat her with both surgery and sclerotherapy, a procedure often used to treat varicose veins and spider veins, which would hopefully reduce the risk.

"This hybrid approach is unique in that it allows the surgeon and the interventionalist to remove large and complicated vascular malformations in a single session, and reduces the risk of significant bleeding," Dr. Bastidas said.

Dr. Ortiz explained in a hospital press release that the schlerotherapy procedure involved injecting medication into the area through a needle to reduce the size of the tumor, calling it a "safer and more effective procedure while protecting the critical structures of the face."

Then, doctors would alternate injecting medicine, and surgically removing the tumor.

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"We are very happy and grateful to Camila's doctors for their knowledge, dedication and unconditional support," Angela Alzate said in a statement.

After multiple rounds, CBS New York reported that Camila, at almost two years old, is still a little swollen from the latest surgery, but she is well on her way to recovery, with only one final procedure left.

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