Woman's Brain Tumor Turns Out to Be Her Long-Lost Twin

brain scanThe next time you think you're hearing voices in your head, consider this possibility. 26-year-old Yamini Karanam was having a tumor removed from her brain when doctors discovered something surprising-- or should we say someone surprising? It wasn't just a tumor -- it was Karanam's embryonic twin hiding in her brain.


Technically the embryo is a teratoma, a tumor with hair, bone, and teeth. It's an embryo that never developed completely.

It all started when Karanam started having problems that confounded her doctors. "Problems with reading comprehension, listening comprehension," she told NBC New York. "If a couple people were talking in a room, I wouldn't understand what was happening."

Ordinarily, neurosurgeons would have to remove half of the skull to remove a tumor like Karanam's. But through exhaustive research she found a surgeon who used fiber-optic technology and digital imaging to delicately remove the tumor buried deep inside her brain. 

More from The Stir: 10 Celebrities Who Have a Twin You Probably Don't Know About

Karanam now refers to the teratoma as her "evil twin sister who's been torturing me for the past 26 years." Her surgeon, Dr. Hrayr Shahinian at the Skullbase Institute in Los Angeles, says out of the 7,000 to 8,000 brain surgeries he's performed only one other turned out to be a teratoma -- to give you an idea of how rare this is.

How freaky would this be, to discover your twin inside your brain? Obviously this tumor was not a living being, just a collection of tissues. But it's still like something out of a sci-fi movie. Imagine if you found out you almost had a twin sister. How different would your life have been? And how does that teratoma end up inside your brain, anyway? Why not hang out somewhere less dangerous, like the butt?

This story raises so many questions. Thankfully, the tumor tested negative for cancer cells, so it looks like Karanam will have the rest of her life to contemplate all the implications of having an embryonic evil twin living inside her brain.

Have you ever heard of teratomas? How would you feel if doctors discovered one inside your head?


Image via Bernhard Lelle/Shutterstock

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