Surgeons use chain to rebuild jaw
Published 20/05/2013 | 14:22
A cancer patient has thanked surgeons for saving her life by rebuilding part of her jaw using a chain similar to those used on bicycles.
Liese Healing, from Rugby, Warwickshire, was fitted with the titanium chain in a 12-hour operation at Coventry's University Hospital after being diagnosed with jawbone cancer.
The 49-year-old discovered that the cancer had "eaten away" half of her jaw last July, eight years after she won a battle with ovarian cancer.
The mother-of-two, whose jaw is now held together by the metal chain, said: "Doctors told me I could die in the operation but I had survived one cancer when my children were little and I wasn't going to let this one beat me.
"At times it was really difficult to keep positive but I wanted to show my kids their mum was going to be ok. I am so grateful to all of the hospital staff who have helped me so much."
Consultant neck surgeon Gary Walton and his colleague Raj Sandhu, removed diseased parts of Liese's jaw and mouth before transplanting skin with a vein and artery from the arm to the jaw area, giving the new tissue a blood supply so it would survive.
The chain, which resembles an ordinary bike chain, was then fitted around her newly-reconstructed jaw.
Mr Walton said: "We are seeing an increase in the number of patients with jaw cancer because they don't know the symptoms and they think it only affects older people.
"Liese is living proof that anyone can be affected and was very lucky that her dentist referred her to see a specialist when he did. Anyone who has a persistent mouth ulcer or mouth wound that won't heal should go to see their GP to be on the safe side."