Doctors in India remove 18-cm tail from teenager

PHOTO: Reuters video screengrabs

An 18-year-old in India who lived his whole life with a 'tail' growing out of his lower back, finally had it surgically removed after experiencing extreme pain from the appendage.

The boy's parents took him to hospital only after he complained of excruciating back pain and had trouble sleeping and sitting.

Media reports added that they had deliberately kept their son's birth defect hidden due to the social stigma, and also because they believed that the tail was a good luck charm.

The teenager from Nagpur also appeared healthy and suffered no ill effects from the tail, until recently.

According to Daily Mail, there have only been 23 similar cases reported worldwide.

The defect is the result of a neuro-development abnormality, when the vestigial tail of a foetus in-utero continues to grow. The tail normally shrinks as the baby develops in the womb, as it forms part of the spine and nervous system.

Read also: Doctors in China shocked by boy born with 15cm-long 'tail'

It is made up of connective tissue, blood vessels and nerves, covered by skin.

The tail became painful for the boy after it grew in size and bone developed inside it, which pressed on the boy's back, said his doctor. He added that the birth defect can usually be surgically corrected as early as a few months after birth.

The problems resulting from a human tail are related to bladder and bowel control. It can also result in pain and loss of function in the legs, Times of India reported.

Read also: Baby girl in China has surgery to remove tail

But there were psychological effects as well.

Said his doctor, neurosurgeon Dr Pramod Giri: "The boy was also suffering from an extreme psychological issue because the tail was growing so he had to always adjust the tail in his clothes when sitting."

While it is not a complicated surgery, the operation is done by a neurosurgeon as it involves a part of the spinal cord.

The tail that was removed is believed to be the longest recorded, according to Dr Giri, who performed the operation on Monday (Oct 3).

According to Daily Mail, the boy is expected to be discharged from hospital this week.

Read also: Rare birth defect on the rise

candicec@sph.com.sg

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