Allow Me To Illustrate The Point

, , , , , , | Healthy | February 1, 2018

I work as a medical illustrator, drawing injuries and surgeries for legal purposes — used as courtroom exhibits, mediation materials, etc. Most of the time, the cases that cross my desk are the same run-of-the-mill kinds over and over, but every once in a while, we get very interesting and challenging cases to illustrate.

My most memorable case involved a man with a tumor that had grown in almost the exact middle of his head, sort of at the very back of his throat, near the base of his skull. It had grown monstrously and required a surgery to remove it to improve quality of life. But the only way to get to it required some extreme measures, and I’ll never forget the surgeon’s notes in which he described the procedure. This is a bit gruesome, if you’re squeamish.

It required lifting away the bottom of the face from the skull and cutting the mandible — jaw bone — down the middle, then prying the jaw apart to either side. While the surgeon provided no sketches to help me visualize this, he made it clear enough when he mentioned it was commonly known as “the Predator cut.”

They also then removed half the jawbone. It was surprising to learn how they reconstruct the face afterwards; they simply carve up segments from your fibula — the small bone in your lower leg — and make a new L-shaped jaw out of it!

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