• After over a decade of misdiagnoses, SSMC doctors put an end to the patient’s debilitating pain

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates: Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City (SSMC), one of the UAE’s largest hospitals for serious and complex care and a joint-venture partnership between Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (SEHA) and Mayo Clinic, successfully performed high risk, complex oral maxillofacial surgery on a patient with a recurring tumor.

The 42-year-old, female Filipina patient’s journey dates back to 2009 when she noticed a small lump behind her ear similar to the size of a bean. When she consulted with her local doctor, she was initially prescribed paracetamol and eardrops. After a few years of ignoring acute pain, the lump continued to grow and the patient was then diagnosed with a parotid tumor.

Dr. John Devine, maxillofacial, head and neck surgery consultant and division chair at SSMC, said: “The patient had presented with a parotid tumor which is an abnormal growth of cells that form in the parotid glands, the largest of the three major salivary glands. After the first surgery in 2016, the patient had a recurrence of the tumor in 2018, and later in 2020, she underwent a biopsy, which identified that the tumor is a malignant acinic cell carcinoma. The patient came to us in 2021, we found that the tumor had become quite advanced, the size of a fist and was ulcerating her skin.”

Dr. Devine, along with a multidisciplinary team, conducted a full investigation of a CT scan and a biopsy, which then confirmed the malignant state of the tumor and the potential to spread to other areas of the body. The team determined that the patient required surgery and that the tumor was operable.

The multidisciplinary team consisted of the maxillofacial surgeon, radiologist, pathologist, speech therapist, dietician, and physiotherapist.

“The surgery itself carried several risks for the team to factor in and control, including facial paralysis being a key risk. We also had to design the surgery in a way that we were able to do reconstruction, which was needed due to the size of the tumor. We performed the procedure using a facial NIM alarm system to detect the nerves and remove the tumor along with a large part of the facial skin. We then took a segment of her upper arm, an artery, and a vein to reconstruct the area. We were pleased to have accomplished the removal and reconstruction within the same surgery,” continued Dr. Devine.

Amira El-Sheshtawi, senior physiotherapist at SSMC, said: “Rehabilitation played a pivotal role in the patient’s recovery, as we focused on the treatment plan to restore the patient’s range of motion and activate the muscle strength of the neck and right shoulder. We also paid attention to the nerves that control the movements of the mouth and facial muscles and focused on deep breathing exercises and stimulating the lungs and respiratory system to avoid complications and improve the quality of her life after surgery.”

The patient said: “I was very pleased that the surgery went well and that I was finally able to get the help I needed after living with the tumor for such a long time. I’m so happy with the results and I’m very grateful for Dr. Devine because he really went the extra mile, and the nursing staff were very caring and checking up on me daily.”

During the post-surgery phase, SSMC provided the appropriate care where the patient underwent speech therapy, had sessions with a physiotherapist and consulted with a dietician.

“We owe the success of this surgery to our team of multidisciplinary experts who provided a 360-degree care for the patient. We are extremely pleased that we were able to support the patient, not only by removing a potentially life-threatening tumor, but by significantly improving her quality of life after suffering from her condition for so many years,” concluded Dr. Devine.


About Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City (SSMC)

Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City (SSMC) is a joint venture between Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (SEHA), the UAE’s largest health care network, and Mayo Clinic, a non-profit global leader in medical care, education, and research headquartered in the United States of America. Established in 2019, SSMC is one of the largest tertiary hospitals in the UAE and serves to elevate the provision of health care services in the nation under the mandate of the Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030.

Supported by the latest diagnostic and treatment modalities available, SSMC offers care in 34 specialties. A team of locally and internationally trained physicians and allied health staff work seamlessly together, which promotes comprehensive interdisciplinary learning, allowing SSMC to become a leading hub for integrated patient-centric medical services in the region.

As the region’s leading tertiary facility, SSMC has 732 patient beds, 18 operating theatres including a hybrid operating room, a 26-bed neonatal intensive care unit and the UAE’s largest pathology lab.

For more information on Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City or to book an appointment, visit ssmc.ae.

About SEHA

The Abu Dhabi Health Services Company PJSC–SEHA – is an independent, public joint stock company created to develop the curative activities of the public healthcare system in Abu Dhabi. The company owns and operates all the public hospitals and clinics of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.

SEHA is part of ADQ, one of the region’s largest holding companies with a broad portfolio of major enterprises spanning key sectors of Abu Dhabi’s diversified economy.

SEHA is committed to continuous improvement of customer care to recognized international standards and providing the community with world-class healthcare. SEHA operates 13 hospitals with 3,385 beds, 70 ambulatory care, family care, and urgent care centers and 2 blood banks. Its facilities accommodate 117,162 inpatients annually and conduct 43,262 surgeries, as well as treating more than five million outpatients. SEHA is one of the largest integrated healthcare providers in the Middle East with more than 18,000 doctors, nurses, ancillary care, and administrative personnel. Learn more at www.seha.ae.

About Mayo Clinic

Mayo Clinic is a nonprofit organization committed to innovation in clinical practice, education and research, and providing compassion, expertise and answers to everyone who needs healing. Visit the Mayo Clinic News Network for additional Mayo Clinic news and Mayo Clinic Facts for more information about Mayo.

For media inquiries, please contact:
Salma Chalak  
Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City  
Email:  schalak@ssmc.ae  
Fadya Al Kathairi  
Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City  
Email: falkathairi@seha.ae 
Wael Al Kubbani,
Hill+Knowlton Strategies
Email: Wael.AlKubbani@hkstrategies.com