Doctors perform innovative skull-scalp transplant in US
U.S. doctors hailed a complex operation as a world first after performing a skull and scalp transplant on a cancer patient who also received a new kidney and pancreas during the procedure.
James Boysen, a 55-year-old software developer, underwent 15 hours of surgery performed with the help of more than 50 medical professionals, the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston said Thursday.
It said that the historic surgery made Boysen the “first patient to receive the simultaneous craniofacial tissue transplant together with solid organ transplants.”
The operation, performed at Houston Methodist Hospital, was conceptualized almost four years ago, but wasn’t carried out until May 22, some 20 hours after doctors were told appropriate organs had become available.
“This was a very complex surgery because we had to transplant the tissues utilizing microsurgery,” said Michael Klebuc, lead surgeon from the Houston Methodist Hospital plastic surgery team that helped perform the skull-scalp transplant.
“Imagine connecting blood vessels 1/16 of an inch under a microscope with tiny stitches about half the diameter of a human hair being done with tools that one would use to make a fine Swiss watch,” he said.
Boysen, a resident of Austin, was diagnosed with leiomyosarcoma, a rare cancer that attacks smooth muscle, on his scalp in 2006.