Division of Pediatric General, Thoracic and Fetal Surgery

A Guide to Your Child's Surgery

Our Surgery Guide will help you and your family prepare for your child's upcoming surgery, outlining what to expect from the first pre-op visit all the way through to her discharge.

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Sacrococcygeal Teratoma

What is a sacrococcygeal teratoma?
How is it diagnosed?
About the operation
After the operation
Caring for your child at home
When to call the doctor

What is a sacrococcygeal teratoma?

Sacrococcygeal teratoma (SCT) is a tumor that develops before birth and grows from a baby's coccyx — more commonly known as the "tailbone." The tumor is usually covered with skin, but may be covered by a thin, transparent tissue called a membrane. Most tumors have many blood vessels coming through them. They come in many different sizes, and sometimes they may grow outward from the back or toward your child's stomach.

Doctors group SCT tumors according to their location and severity:

How is it diagnosed?

Some tumors can be diagnosed by ultrasound before your child is born. Your may be referred to The Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment for further monitoring of you and your baby prior to birth. Your baby may need fetal surgery for a sacrococcygeal teratoma (SCT).

Other tumors may not be visible until after your baby is born. Your child may also have symptoms — such as being unable to urinate or have a bowel movement — because the tumor is pressing on her bladder or rectum. On the other hand, some children have no symptoms at all.

About the operation

If your child has an SCT tumor, he'll need surgery. During the surgery, the surgeon will remove both the tumor and your child's tailbone. The doctor has to remove the tailbone because the tumor grows from it, and if it's not removed, the tumor may grow back.

If the tumor is in your child's abdomen, the surgeon may need to make two incisions, one in his buttocks and one in his abdomen.

After the operation

After surgery, your child will go back to her hospital room. Here's what to expect:

She'll be discharged from the hospital when:

Caring for your child at home

Once your child comes home, he may have formula or breast milk. You may also give him acetaminophen (TYLENOL) — according to his doctor's instructions — for any pain he may have.

The STERI-STRIPS will fall off on their own. Once the edges begin to curl up, you may remove them.

Take additional care when cleaning your child's bottom, because the incision area near your child's rectum can become infected if you don't keep it clean. You may give your child a tub bath one to two weeks after surgery.

You'll need to take your child for a follow-up appointment with the surgeon two weeks after he comes home from the hospital, then every few months until he's 2 and then every year after that. At each visit, your child will have a blood test called an alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) test, which checks for the return of the tumor.

When to call the doctor

Please call your child's doctor (at Children's Hospital, call 215-590-2730) if:

Reviewed by: Surgical Advanced Practice Nurses
Date: November 2008

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