When a Los Angeles surgeon operated on an Indiana woman’s brain, he hoped to remove a tumor. Instead, he found the woman’s unborn twin.
Yamini Karanam, 26, was a Ph.D student at Indiana University when she looked to cure herself of issues plaguing her mind.
“Problems with reading comprehension, listening comprehension,” Karanam told NBC. “If a couple people were talking in a room, I wouldn’t understand what was happening.”
After going to several doctors, there was still no consensus as to what was wrong with her.
“The neurologist would say the neurosurgeon is not being practical in your case,” Kranam said. “And the neurosurgeon would say the neurologist is not being optimistic in your case. And I’m like, could someone be educated about this?”
After conducting her own research, she found Dr. Hrayr Shahinian at the Skullbase Institute in Los Angeles who employed a “minimally-invasive” method of extracting brain tumors deep in the brain, according to NBC.
"Unlike traditional brain surgery where you open the skull and use metal retractors and you bring a microscope to see in the depths of the brain, what we're doing is keyhole surgery," Dr. Shahinian explained to NBC.
Keyhole surgery uses an endoscope to enter a tiny incision in the brain. This way, surgeons can very carefully and precisely get rid of the tumor.
When Karanam awoke, she discovered the cause of her comprehension issues was due to what she called her “evil twin sister who’s been torturing me for the past 26 years.”
The “evil sister” was in fact a “teratoma," or an embryonic twin that had bone, hair, and teeth, according to NBC.
Even to a seasoned surgeon like Dr. Shahinian, this is an incredibly rare occurrence.
“This is my second one,” he explained, “and I’ve probably taken out 7,000 or 8,000 brain tumors.”
Karanam is now expected to make a full recovery in three weeks.
Absorbed twins, or "vanishing twin syndrome" occurs in roughly 21-30% of multifetal pregnancies.