New Hyde Park, NY (PRWEB) May 09, 2013
Earlier this year, 13-year-old Elizabeth Petitfrere didn’t even know what a tumor was. All she knew was that on January 23, the breathing difficulties she had been experiencing became so intense that she called 911. The only thing she remembers is staying in Cohen Children’s Medical Center for four days – she has no memory of the seriousness of the situation.
During a news conference on Wednesday at Cohen, Elizabeth and her parents, Marie and Joseph Petitfrere of Brentwood, thanked the hospital surgeons who gave her back her ability to breathe. Lee Smith, MD, chief of pediatric otolaryngology at Cohen, and his colleague on this case, David Zeltsman, MD, chief of thoracic surgery at LIJ Medical Center, recalled that when Elizabeth arrived at Cohen, she could hardly breathe. Dr. Smith rushed her to the operating room, where he discovered a large benign tumor the size of a golf ball. The tumor, located just below her vocal cords and extending into her windpipe, caused a 90 percent blockage of her airway.
Using actual footage from the surgery, Dr.Smith described how he removed part of the tumor, easing Elizabeth’s breathing. Further testing and imaging revealed a benign tumor that extended both inside and outside the larynx (voice box) and trachea (wind pipe), a condition so rare that there are fewer than 50 such reported cases in the world.
Elizabeth was brought back to Cohen about three weeks later for another surgery. During a very complex airway surgery that lasted nine hours, Dr. Smith removed the tumor while preserving both nerves leading to the voice box. Adding to the challenge, the nerves controlling the voice box are about the size of a rubber band, so a faulty movement could have caused permanent damage to Elizabeth’s vocal cords. But in order to take out the tumor, surgeons
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