The issue of benign tumours of the mandible is sadly common problem in Africa. The most common histology type is ameloblastoma, but there are other non-cancerous causes of enlargement of the upper or lower jaw that would also fall in this category. It is possible for reconstruction to be done with pieces of titanium, but the plate can fracture or become exposed inside or outside the mouth up to years after the operation.
The optimal treatment is a free flap surgery, a complex procedure which involves two simultaneous procedures. First, removal of the tumor and mandible. Second, the removal of the central part of fibula bone together with its blood supply from the lower leg. The fibula bone is then shaped to fit the defect in the jaw and the blood vessels are attached to blood vessels in the neck. If successful, the replacement of the live bone means that the patient can regain normal functionality of the jaw and have improved facial aesthetic outcomes. They can smile, chew and be confident about their faces as before they had the tumours.
In early May, a special surgical “camp” was conducted by a team of surgeons and nurses from Vanderbilt University working AIC Kijabe surgeons Dr. Nthumba, Dr. Nolen, and Dr. Macharia along with ancillary personnel from the Kijabe theatre team.
We are excited for the chance this procedure will offer for the three surgery recipients to return to normal function. Please pray for their recovery and healing. Pictured below is Eddah, who is happy to return to her home to continue her recovery!