Children’s of Mississippi team removes tumor hidden in Gulfport child’s heart
Published on Monday, September 20, 2021
By: Annie Oeth, email@example.com
Levi Outlaw’s need for sedation during dental work may have saved his life.
While the 5-year-old from Gulfport was having several teeth filled, the anesthesiologist noticed an abnormal heart rhythm on his electrocardiogram.
After a visit with his pediatrician, Dr. Catherine Donald of Children’s of Mississippi’s Gulfport clinic, Levi and parents Marc and Monique Outlaw went to pediatric cardiologist Dr. John Criscuolo at Children’s of Mississippi’s Biloxi specialty clinic.
A large mass, 8 by 6 by 5 centimeters, was found growing in Levi’s left ventricle, a diagnosis Criscuolo calls “astounding.”
“Primary cardiac tumors are very rare,” Criscuolo said.
“The mass was very large and was in the muscle of the left ventricle,” Criscuolo said
“That was when our world turned upside down,” said Monique Outlaw, Levi’s mother.
The Outlaws were devastated.
“Until then, we thought we had a healthy child,” Monique Outlaw said. “Levi was running and playing all the time. We had no idea.”
Criscuolo sent the family to Mississippi’s only children’s hospital. “I knew we would need a cardiac MRI to make a definitive diagnosis. We needed Levi to go to Jackson to Children’s of Mississippi and be sedated for the hour-long scan.”
Meanwhile, Criscuolo was discussing Levi’s case with colleagues at the Children’s Heart Center inside the Kathy and Joe Sanderson Tower at Children’s of Mississippi.
“The group felt that, in light of the increasing bed shortage due to COVID-19 cases, it would be best to admit him to the hospital to expedite obtaining the MRI and starting treatment,” he said.
Levi and his family made it to Jackson that day, and the next day, Aug. 28, a cardiac MRI confirmed Criscuolo’s diagnosis of a cardiac fibroma, a non-cancerous heart tumor.
The multidisciplinary Children’s Heart Center team, including cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Mohammed Ghanamah, recommended surgery to remove Levi’s tumor. The procedure was performed a day before Levi’s fifth birthday.
“At that time, we thought we might never see our son again,” Marc Outlaw said.
"Levi’s surgery was challenging, mainly because it was difficult to tell how much heart muscle would be remaining and how his heart function would be after this huge tumor was removed,” Ghanamah said. “It was also challenging to reconstruct the left ventricular wall. Thankfully, the procedure went very well with complete resection of the tumor, good heart wall reconstruction and a normal function of the heart. I believe he has an excellent prognosis.”
Monique Outlaw could tell surgery went well.
“I knew when Dr. Ghanamah came through the doors to talk to us,” Monique Outlaw said. “The look on his face told us everything was going to be OK before he said anything. He told us the surgery couldn’t have gone any better.”
The Outlaw family is thankful for “the whole team at Children’s of Mississippi,” she said. “Everyone made the experience as positive as it could be.”
Going from diagnosis to surgery to back at home in about a week has been “a whirlwind,” she said, but the Outlaws have had time to think back on all that happened.
“If Levi had not had dental work or had not been sedated, we wouldn’t have known about his condition,” she said. “It really is a miracle.”
Once the family was back home in Gulfport, Levi has been active, running and playing with his favorite, toy trains, Outlaw said. “We’ve been telling him to slow down!”