A seven-month-old Iraqi infant, Fatemah, and her mother, Beyda’a, arrived at Columbus Children’s Hospital Wednesday night, May 19, at 11:30 p.m. following military transport from Iraq through Germany to Rickenbacker International Airport.
A large mass on the baby’s right neck and chest prompted her parents to seek help from U.S. soldiers stationed at Forward Operating Base Rough Rider near their hometown of Mandali not far from the Iranian border. Military physicians initially diagnosed a hemangioma and became deeply concerned about the child’s condition because the mass is imposing on her airway.
Fatemah is currently undergoing diagnostic procedures so that her initial diagnosis can be verified and a course of treatment finalized. A variety of tests, including a fluoroscopy study, chest X-ray, blood work and an MRI, will be conducted over the next couple of days and will assist Columbus Children’s physicians in determining if the child has a hemangioma or another type of vascular malformation.
Directing the infant’s care is Gayle Gordillo, M.D., director of the Columbus Children’s Hospital Hemangioma and Vascular Malformations Clinic and assistant professor of Surgery/Director of Research at The Ohio State University Division of Plastic Surgery.
Hemangioma is a proliferation of cells, similar to those in a benign, soft tissue tumor. One in 10 children experience a hemangioma (most often found in the head and neck area), and between one and two percent of hemangioma cases are life-threatening, as in the case of Fatemah. Hemangiomas can be treated both medically and surgically. Because it has not yet been determined if surgery will be required to treat Fatemah’s condition, steroid treatment has already begun in anticipation of the final diagnosis.
“The mass is quite large and the risk of infection is great,” said Dr. Gordillo. If steroid treatment proves effective, the tumor may begin to reduce in size within a week.
Fatemah is exected to be hospitalized between three to five days and will be discharged to a local Iraqi host family while she continues outpatient treatment at Columbus Children’s.