A lady patient having Mucormycosis was recently saved in the nick of time by doctors who performed precise surgical intervention on her at the Global hospital, Mumbai.
Covid triggered low immunity along with diabetes mellitus made Mrs. Shaila Sonar, from Dhule, interior Maharashtra, more susceptible to the rare and serious fungal infection called Mucormycosis.
Doctors at the hospital have said that Mucorales is the largest and best-studied order of zygomycete fungi, which are sometimes called pin molds. This infection destroys bone, invades blood vessels. It spreads aggressively from the nose to palate to the orbits and to the brain.
In Shaila Sonar’s case, the infection impacted her nose, paranasal sinuses, and palate. The infection was so aggressive, that even after four surgeries performed at other hospitals, it continued to persist. This led to the patient’s eventual consultation on December 1, 2020.
At Global Hospital, a surgery along with appropriate anti-fungal therapy followed. The patient was operated on and half of her palate was removed in the process of clearing the fungal infection. Her eyes were saved due to timely and precise surgical intervention. Post-operation, she underwent anti-fungal therapy and rehabilitation. 21 days after her admission, she was discharged.
Dr. Milind Navalakhe, ENT Surgeon, Global Hospitals, said: "Mucormycosis is a fungal disease that usually occurs in patients with a compromised immune status. He said the number of patients affected with this rare infection has increased."
He informed: "In the early 90s, only one or two patients would visit me for treatment of this infection. But in the last 25 years, per year 25-30 patients receive treatment for it. Now, within 1-3 months of post-COVID recovery, around 50 low-immunity patients, with diabetes and on steroids, got this fungal infection,” he added.
Dr Navalakhe pointed out, “Unfortunately, it does not cause significantly different symptoms than a cold or nasal block. Initially, blackish discoloration on the inside of the nose and palate is seen. Hence, it goes unnoticed to an advanced stage. By the time the patients seek medical attention, it is already in the advanced stage called sinonasal mucormycosis.”
Dr Navalakhe said that it mainly starts in the nasal cavity or paranasal sinuses, involving the nose. It then becomes rhino-orbital, wherein the eyes are involved. Eventually, it becomes rhino-cerebral, with the involvement of the brain. Many patients realize the need for medical intervention when there is palatal involvement, he added.
He pointed out, “This harmful disease usually starts in the sinuses and then proceeds to the eyeball, the palate, and the brain, causing destruction to the structure. This infection kills tissues causing necrosis. Treatment requires the removal of dead tissues and even the tissues surrounding it, to curb the spread of the infection.”
Dr. Vasant Nagvekar, HOD - Infectious diseases, Global Hospital, said, “Early diagnosis is imperative to start treatment early. Early debridement produces optimal results and prevents morbidity and mortality. It is also necessary to get diabetes under control to reduce the chances of infection.”
“To prevent the devastation caused by the infection, be alert and seek immediate treatment. Our newly launched clinic, will be a boon for the patients by diagnosing and treating them, ultimately helping to improve their quality of life,” said Dr Nagvekar.
“After recovering from Covid-19, I felt pain in my eyes, had a nasal blockage, headache, numbness around the face, nose, and teeth, and reduced smell. Initially, I ignored these symptoms, dismissing them as post-Covid issues. But slowly there was a change in my voice and breathing,” said patient Shaila Sonar.