Woman Gets Radical Surgery by Mistake & Her Tattoos Are to Blame

tattooA California mom of four with cervical cancer had her reproductive organs surgically removed by mistake, thanks to her tattoos. Doctors thought they saw new tumors in her body scan -- but they weren't tumors after all. How could they make such a mistake, and what did her tattoos have to do with it?


It turns out traces of ink from the unnamed woman's extensive tattoos -- she has over 14 on her legs -- caused bright areas to show up on the lymph nodes in her pelvis during her PET/CT fusion scan. It looked like her cervical cancer had spread to other parts of her body.

It wasn't until doctors removed her uterus, cervix, Fallopian tubes, and pelvic lymph nodes that they realized there were no new tumors.

When they examined cells from her lymph nodes they discovered deposits of tattoo ink -- not cancer. "Those lymph nodes that were lighting up brightly on the PET scan were doing so because of the tattoo pigment that was in the lymph nodes," says the doctor treating the woman, Dr. Ramez Eskander, assistant clinical professor of gynecologic oncology at the University of California, Irvine Medical Center. 

More from The Stir: Quiz: How Much Do You Really Know About Tattoos?

In their examination of the nodes doctors did find tiny amounts of cancer cells that wouldn't have come up on the scan. But they would have treated those differently -- most likely not by removing all of the woman's reproductive organs!

The woman is recovering well, but geez Louise! She's going to need hormone replacement therapy and who knows what else all because of her tattoos. Who knew traces of tattoo ink could find their way to your lymph nodes and masquerade as cancer cells?

So that's something for tattoo fans to keep in mind: Ink travels through your body. If you ever have to go in for radiology you'll definitely want to mention the possible effects of your tattoos to your doctor.

Did you know traces of tattoo ink could show up in other parts of your body?


Image via iofoto/Shutterstock



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