A 79-year-old grandmother can now eat after two years of only being able to swallow porridge

FV Hospital Otolaryngologist Vo Cong Minh, MD, PhD, has just successfully operated on 79-year-old Mrs Pham Thi Manh to remove a large bone tumour which had been pressing on the palate, making her unable to eat. Now, Mrs Thi Manh has regained her appetite and quality of life after two years of only eating only soft porridge.

Mrs Pham Thi Manh, 79 years old, a resident of Nha Be District in HCMC, visited FV Hospital feeling unhealthy and exhausted. She told doctors that she had developed a tumour in her oral cavity nine years ago, but over the past two years, the tumour had grown larger, a large bone blocking her palate and compressing the oral cavity, making her unable to eat normally.

Doctor Vo Cong Minh examines Mrs Manh to analyse her tumour of the palatine bone

For more than two years, Mrs Manh could only eat pureed porridge and drink milk to satisfy her basic nutritional needs. Even liquid food was difficult for her to swallow. Although she visited many places and was prescribed surgery by doctors, Mrs Manh was afraid of undergoing a procedure and refused treatment many times. The tumour grew larger and larger, causing pressure and sores when she ate and drank, and causing her extreme pain. The pain made her unable to eat, unable to sleep, and she gradually became more and more exhausted.

She was referred by an acquaintance to FV Hospital for treatment. At FV, after being examined and consulted by Dr Vo Cong Minh, Head of FV’s Otolaryngology Department, Mrs Manh decided to undergo surgery as soon as possible because she could no longer stand the agony. Dr Cong Minh, who directly treated her, says that palatine bone tumours account for a high proportion of benign tumours of the head and neck region. However, a tumour so large that it affects a person’s ability to chew and swallow is a rare, complex case. The underside of a tumour that completely occupies the oral cavity is often infected by painful sores. For Mrs Manh, having to drink loose porridge or milk every day—the only foods she could ingest—also became torture as the food passing through her mucosal scratches was not only agonising, but also made her wounds more likely to become infected.

“Before deciding to pursue surgery, in order to avoid missing any comorbidities that can sometimes be the cause of a patient’s inability to eat and drink, we checked Mrs Manh’s general health very carefully and determined that a tumour of the palatine bone was the source of her issues. Therefore, I decided to immediately operate to help Mrs Manh regain her appetite and her quality of life,” explains Dr Minh.

Doctor Vo Cong Minh (right) and his team perform surgery

The operation took around 90 minutes to complete as the tumour was so large that encompassed the entirety of the upper jaw, and the lower side of the tumour also touched the surface of the tongue. Due to its large size, doctors had to grind down each part in order to remove it. When Mrs Manh awoke, she could open her mouth comfortably for the first time in years. She happily shared: “Never before have I felt so liberated! I’m so happy, doctor! Now I can eat well.”

Mrs Manh, 79, is happy after a successfully operation by FV doctors to remove a bone tumour in her palatal region

Dr Cong Minh noted that the incidence of palatine bone tumours, also known as jaw convexity, is high, accounting for more than 65 per cent of benign tumours in the head and neck region. The rate of oropharynx tumours in women is higher than in men. When the tumour does not affect chewing function, surgery is not required. However, if the tumour continues to grow, it must be monitored and patients should seek timely treatment to avoid detrimental health effects, such as the ones experienced by Mrs Manh. 

The Otolaryngology Department of FV Hospital provides a wide range of services, from medical examination to performing complex surgeries to treat diseases related to the ears, nose and throat, as well as the head and neck areas, in both children and adults.

The Ear-Nose-Throat (ENT) Outpatient Clinic, located on the first floor, Building V, FV Hospital, is modern and spacious with a bright, comfortable patient reception. Doctors are highly trained and experienced and have access to the latest technologies at their fingertips, including NBI endoscopes, mega microscope systems, a fully equipped hearing centre, polysomnography machine, and CPAP continuous positive airway pressure machine.

To treat complex conditions, FV’s otolaryngologists work closely with doctors in other specialties in the hospital, including neurosurgeons and oncologists.

Please contact us to make an appointment, Otolaryngology Department of FV Hospital: (028) 5411 3341 – (028) 5411 333, ext. 7711.

Facebook messenger