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A sacrococcygeal teratoma (SCT) is a type of tumor arising from the tailbone of a developing fetus. This type of teratoma can either grow externally from the tailbone or internally into the pelvis.
While many sacrococcygeal teratomas are small and can be managed after birth, some may need fetal treatment. As a parent, learning your baby may have a sacrococcygeal teratoma can be frightening. But the Colorado Fetal Care Center is at the forefront of treatment and care for this condition.
One of the most common types of congenital germ cell tumors, a sacrococcygeal teratoma (SCT) is a mass located on the base of the tailbone, or coccyx, of a baby. It occurs in an average of one in every 35,000 births and is seen in three times more females than males.
It can vary in size, shape and consistency. While most are small and benign, some fetuses can develop larger growths or may have islands of malignant cells. There are a wide variety of types and sizes of tumors associated with this condition, however they are predominantly benign (non-cancerous) and can be successfully removed after birth in many cases.
Causes of sacrococcygeal teratomas are unknown, though there are many theories.
Depending on the size of the sacrococcygeal teratoma, complications can vary. If the mass is small, often times there are no complications and the pregnancy will continue without problems. In these cases, the tumor can be successfully removed after birth with no prolonged impact to the baby or mother.
If, however, the tumor grows rapidly during the pregnancy, it can create a variety of complications that impact both the mother and baby. Because these tumors can become very large, severe cases put the fetus and mother at risk of:
Sacrococcygeal teratomas can also be tied to other congenital abnormalities such as myelomeningocele, so it's important to conduct a thorough examination to rule out additional complications.
Many sacrococcygeal teratomas are discovered through blood work or a routine ultrasound. At around 16 weeks of pregnancy, blood is drawn from an expectant mother to examine her levels of alpha-fetoprotein (AFP). A high amount of AFP may be one indicator of this condition. Alternatively, the mass can also be detected through an ultrasound, appearing as a fluid-filled cyst on the baby's tailbone.
After a diagnosis, both mother and baby will be monitored often to watch the progression of the mass. A fetal echocardiogram will also be used to monitor the teratoma during pregnancy to track the development of heart failure and any risk of hydrops (fluid buildup).
Our fetal care team will also work with families to provide informed treatment plans based on the type, size, and composition of a fetal sacrococcygeal teratoma (verified by a fetal MRI). They'll also take into account the complications the mass is causing to determine if fetal surgery is required.
The standard treatment process for small, benign fetal sacrococcygeal teratomas includes:
However, for larger or malignant tumors that are posing a risk to cardiac, lung or bowel functions, prenatal surgery may be recommended by our fetal care team.
Treatment for these types of sacrococcygeal teratomas include:
Treatment for sacrococcygeal teratomas at the Colorado Fetal Care Center has proven very successful. Thanks to our amazing team, sacrococcygeal teratoma surgeries have improved outcomes for our tiniest patients and their mothers.
Cardiology - Pediatric, Pediatrics