Meet Yamini Karanam, a 26-year-old PhD student who underwent a brain surgery for a suspected tumor when she discovered her “evil twin sister”.
An embryonic twin has been find inside a woman’s brain while she was a having surgery for a suspected tumor. Doctors discovered the twin, medically known as a ‘brain teratoma‘, complete with bone, hair and teeth, and in some cases they have been found to resemble a fetus, inside her brain.
Yamini first noticed something wasn’t right last September, when she struggled to register things in her mind.
If a couple of people were talking in a room, I wouldn’t understand what was happening,” she explained.
Frustrated at doctors’ apparent inability to find an answer, Yamini launched her own search for answers online. She sought medical help last September when she began to struggle with conversations and reading. It led her to the Skullbase Institute and Dr Shahinian, who has developed a minimally-invasive way of reaching deep into a person’s brain to extract tumors.
Initially, doctors were unsure what was wrong with her, so they performed keyhole surgery rather than traditional brain surgery, which involves opening the skull and using metal retractors to allow him to insert a microscope deep into her brain. That was when surgeons made the amazing discovery and removed the teratoma, Yamimi’s twin that never developed.
It’s my evil twin sister who’s been torturing me for the past 26 years,” Yamini joked.
Dr Hrayr Shahinian, at the Skullbase Institute in Los Angeles, makes a half-inch incision in the brain to use fibre-optic technology and digital imagery to gently chisel away at the tumour. Dr Shahinian, said it was only the second teratoma he had come across out of up to 8,000 brain tumors he has removed.
Dr Shahinian said he feared the tumour could be cancerous. However, tests revealed the mass was benign, and Miss Karanam is expected to make a full recovery in just three weeks. For that, she wanted to raise awareness of Dr Shahinian’s technique.
This has to be mainstream. When they know you have a pineal tumour, 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,” according to Yamini.
Prior to Dr Shahinian’s keyhole approach, he said the only option was to remove half of the patient’s skull to reach the tumor.
We want to be in and out without the brain knowing we were there, and I think that’s the beauty of this technique.”