An embryonic twin was found inside an Indiana woman’s brain, after she underwent surgery to have what she thought was a tumor removed.
Yamini Karanam, 26, noticed in September 2014 that she was having comprehension problems. The Indiana University Ph.D. student was having trouble grasping things she was reading and understanding what was going on when more than one person was speaking at a time.
“Problems with reading comprehension, listening comprehension. If a couple people were talking in a room, I wouldn’t understand what was happening.”
Realizing that something was not right, Karanam sought out several different doctors in hopes of obtaining a diagnosis. However, it became more frustrating for her when none of the doctors could agree on what was causing her problem.
“The neurologist would say the neurosurgeon is not being practical in your case,” Karanam said, according to NBC Los Angeles. “And the neurosurgeon would say the neurologist is not being optimistic in your case. And I’m like, could someone be educated about this?”
— Discovery Canada (@DiscoveryCanada) April 23, 2015
Frustrated, and feeling defeated, Yamini decided to do her own research which led her to Dr. Hrayr Shahinian at the Skullbase Institute in Los Angeles. Dr. Shahinian developed a minimally invasive method of reaching into a person’s brain to extract a tumor, known as the ‘keyhole’ surgery.
“Unlike traditional brain surgery where you open the skull and use metal retractors and you bring a microscope to see in the depths of the brain, what we’re doing is keyhole surgery,” he said. With this surgery, an endoscope is used to carefully and precisely remove the tumor through a tiny incision in the brain.
When Karanam woke up from the surgery, she was relieved to know that she didn’t have a tumor. However, she was in complete shock to learn that her embryonic twin had been lodged in her brain. She jokingly called it her “evil twin sister who’s been torturing me for the past 26 years.” According to WPXI.com, what is even more shocking is that the embryonic twin was complete with bones, hair and teeth!
— The Independent (@Independent) April 23, 2015
Karanam said she is disappointed that no other surgeon was aware of Shahinian’s method.
“It’s really unfair that people don’t know about it,” she said. “This has to be mainstream. This is the first thing that they should get you. When they know you have a pineal tumor, they should tell you, ‘You know what? There’s a minimally invasive approach in which they won’t kill you, they won’t leave you with a disability. There’s a way in which you can live your life just the way you want to.'”
The twin, known as a brain teratoma, is very rare, and Shahinian said this was only his second one out of removing approximately 8,000 tumors.
Karanam is expected to make a full recovery from her surgery.
[Photo via YouTube screen shot]