Vietnamese boy freed from disfiguring arm tumor

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Do Dinh Hai Hung's arm on January 21

Doctors in Hanoi have successfully removed a tumor from a boy's disfigured arm after removing all of the appendage's skin, which had grown dark, wrinkly and hairy.

The 5-year-old boy's condition, in which his right arm is tiny and  disfigured, was caused by congenital melanoma.

Do Dinh Hai Hung was born with his right arm covered with thick hairs around two centimeters long from his shoulder to fingers.

The skin under his right eyebrow, on his nose tip, and his buttocks was also darker than normal and covered with thicker hair.

On Monday, doctors at the National Pediatrics Hospital removed all of the affected skin from the right arm, as well as the tumor under it, which had caused it to grow smaller than the left arm, news website Dan Tri reported.

They had performed three other operations days earlier to remove damaged skin on other parts of the boy's body including from the shoulder to the elbow of the right arm.

They also implanted an inflatable balloon under the arm skin as part of a tissue expansion process designed to attach the arm to the abdomen so that the abdomen skin is stretched to cover the arm. They injected a saline solution to slowly stretch the overlaying skin. The implantation will take around seven weeks, doctors said.

Tissue expansion, which prompts extra skin grow through controlled mechanical overstretch, creates skin that matches the color, texture, and thickness of the surrounding tissue, while minimizing scars and the risk of rejection.

Dr Ngo Anh Tu from the hospital said melanoma occurred in around one in 20,000 children born, but Hung's was a severe case found in only one per 500,000 children.

She said the tumor was harmless but it would have caused social problems for the child.

"Also, the condition needs early surgical intervention as 1 or 2 percent of the cases can become malignant after sometime."

Dr Nguyen Thanh Liem, director of the hospital, said there have been no scientific explanations for the cause of the condition.

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