In a stunning discovery, doctors in Japan recently found a tiny brain developing and growing in a teenage girl’s ovary. The teen hadn’t been suffering from any known ill-effects from the tiny brain, and it was only found when she was undergoing surgery for routine appendectomy. Reportedly, while doctors were inside her abdomen to remove her appendix, her surgeons discovered a tumor on her ovary.
As IFLScience reported, the Japanese doctors then set out to remove the ovarian tumor, only to receive the shock of their lives. Doctors successfully removed the tumor from the teen’s ovary, only to discover that it contained what has been described as a “tiny brain.” In reality, the brain was a mass of brain cells, and even a partially formed skull.
Doctors say that the brain tissue found in the ovary of the Japanese teen contained “highly organized neural tissue,” tissue that looked incredibly like a cerebellum. That region of the brain is responsible for both balance and motor control, and it was apparently growing ever-more complex in the teen’s ovary.
Technically, ovarian tumors containing “out of place” body tissues are called teratomas. They are not uncommon, and contain virtually any type of tissue, from hair, bone, teeth, or muscle. Ovarian teratomas containing brain tissue have been reported, rarely, in the past. However, this case of a tiny brain being discovered in an ovary is unlike virtually anything else ever reported.
The case of the brain found in the Japanese teen’s ovary was reported in the online medical journal Neuropathology, and the case study described the tumor as being roughly 10 centimeters, and apparently in a stage of continued development. The brain contained not just cerebellar tissue, but “three layers of the cerebellar cortex” that were reportedly “well formed.” A rudimentary spinal cord was also apparent, and the cerebellar tissue was even developing “dendrites,” or the fibers that connect neurons.
The nerve fibers found in the tiny brain were also evolving as the teratoma grew undetected in the teen’s ovary. According to doctors, they were developing a substance called myelin, necessary for electrical impulses to quickly transmit throughout a functioning brain. Doctors and scientists documented that they found the myelin on a substantive portion of the tiny brain’s “white matter.”
According to those who researched and studied the tiny brain, found unexpectedly in the Japanese teen’s ovary, the widespread appearance of the substance indicated the “advanced maturation of the neural tissue.”
@ScienceChannel Many years ago, a similar case of "tiny brained monster" being birthed full term and later winning the 2016 U.S. election.— El Oso Mafioso (@jjmse4life) January 9, 2017
@newscientist why it's important for women's to have access to healthcare this is a very rare condition due to ovarian cysts.— Zion/Alex V Osterman (@UrbanPointAlexV) January 9, 2017
The tiny “brainstem” discovered next to the “ovarian brain” was actually a collection of CNS tissue. In a normal, functioning brain, the brainstem would connect the brain to the spinal cord. In the case of the brain found in the ovary, no spinal cord tissue was discovered, and the brainstem was described as being “club-shaped.”
In addition to the central nervous system tissue, the tiny brain found in the teen’s ovary also appeared to be surrounded by a shell made of bone, very similar to a skull, although on a tiny and incomplete scale.
While this is among the first-ever recorded case of such a complete, well-formed brain being found in an ovarian teratoma, it’s not the first time (or even close to the first time) that doctors have found incredible “mini body parts” and structures within an ovary or other organ. Biological structures that look (and sometimes even partially function) like miniature versions of body parts are known as homunculi.
Despite the fact that the 16-year-old Japanese teen blew her doctor’s collective minds with the tiny brain she was inexplicably and unbelievably growing in her ovary, they were able to remove the tumor, including all of its brain tissue. The teen is said to be “recovering well” following the discovery of the medical history making tiny brain in her ovary.
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