by: Nwadije Johncross Chidubem
Ameloblastoma (from the early English word amel , meaning enamel + the Greek word blastos , meaning germ is a rare, benign tumor of odontogenic epithelium (ameloblasts, or outside portion, of the teeth during development ) much more commonly appearing in the lower jaw than the upper jaw .
There are three main clinical subtypes of ameloblastoma: unicystic, multicystic, peripheral.
The peripheral subtype composes 2% of all ameloblastomas. Of all ameloblastomas in younger patients, unicystic ameloblastomas represent 6% of the cases. A fourth subtype, malignant, has been considered by some oncologic specialists, however, this form of the tumor is rare and may be simply a manifestation of one of the three main subtypes. Ameloblastoma also occurs in long bones, and another variant is Craniopharyngioma ( Rathke’s pouch tumour)
surgical resection or enucleation remains the most definitive treatment for this condition. In a detailed study of 345 patients, chemotherapy and radiation therapy seemed to be contraindicated for the treatment of ameloblastomas. Thus, surgery is the most common treatment of this tumor.
Succesful Treatment of amelobastoma in Nigeria:
The young lady before the surgery, Nkiruka with no jaw after the surgery
It is hard to believe, but the truth is that a certain lady, Nkiruka Alifose, at this moment has no jaw. For four years, Nkiruka lived with a malignant tumour, which ravaged her whole mouth and left her with untold pain. Heaven, however, smiled on her when a Non-Governmental Organisation, formerly known as Better Life Foundation (now Victory Health For All Foundation), picked her up from her hometown, Nnentu Ugwunagbo in Asa Local Government Area of Abia state and began to seek help for her.
Help did come and she underwent surgery at the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital (UNTH), Enugu.
The operation, which was a spirited effort to remove the malignant tumour, necessitated the removal of her lower jaw. But now, she is living her life with just her upper jaw. Removing the entire lower jaw, according to health experts, remained the only option to stop the tumour from growing
Dr. Felix Uzuife Chukwuneke who is head of the medical team that carried out the surgery described the operation as challenging, but highly successful. He is a consultant maxillofacial surgeon at UNTH Ituku ozalla
On how the young girl would go through life without a jaw, he said: ‘Well, the fact remains that without a jaw, the quality of her life will actually be compromised because there won’t be anything for her to chew. And if there’s anything for her to chew, her eating condition will be compromised as well. Again, it will distort her facial outlook. And after sometime, because she has no jaw, her face will shrink. So, she will not look physically pleasing. Already, her facial outlook has been distorted.
‘Now, Nkiruka would undergo another surgery. This will require eithbuyer using the floating hip ribs, that is, the rib that is not attached to the chest or using one of the processes that would be imported from abroad. And then, ensuring that the working condition, especially the teaching hospital where the first study was done is upgraded. ‘Otherwise,’ he continued, ‘she can go abroad to do it. But there are many of the teaching hospitals here that can do that kind of surgery. It’s not a big thing for us at all because it is something we have been handling over the years.