Have You Seen A Large Abdominal Mass Like My Daughter Has?

Q:  My daughter has grown in the past two years a strange looking abdominal growth. It doesn’t look like any abdominal pannus picture I have ever seen. She is very obese but has a normal looking white abdomen which hangs down a little. However, directly under (and separate from) this normal looking abdomen is a huge purple/red hanging balloon which is ulcerated and infected. It grows out from under the abdomen right above the pubis. She is scheduled for surgery in a month and the surgeon is acting like he doesn’t know for sure what it is. It is estimated to weigh about 50 pounds. Have you ever run across anything like this in your plastic surgery practice?

A: While it is unusual, I am certain it is not a mystery per se. There are only a certain number of conditions that it could be. Possibilities include a granulomatous reaction from a ulcerated wound in the skin fold, an area of  lymphedema with resultant ulceration, ballooning subcutaneous fat necrosis or benign growths such as large lipomas, hemangiomas or even a teratoma. Whatever the final pathologic diagnosis, it will be removed by wide excision down to the underlying abdominal wall  with a modified abdominal panniculectomy. It does not sound anything like a hernia of which it is in an unlikely location and a CT scan would easily rule that out. A CT scan would also rule out any tumor growths from deeper structures, such as the ovaries.

With a weight of 50 lbs, however, it is much more likely that this is a benign tumor growth of solid tissue rather than any reactive mass.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis Indiana