Amol Bhavari, a 24-year-old Pune resident, who couldn’t breathe or speak properly, suffered from recurrent respiratory papillomatosis (RRP), which is a rare disorder characterized by the development of small, wart-like growths (papillomas) in the respiratory tract. He would undergo surgeries to remove the papillomas after every four months. He got RRP since the age of 3, and till now, he has undergone 54 surgeries. On June 6, 2019, Amol’s 55th surgery took place at Kohinoor hospital. The patient is fine now and can speak and breathe properly.
Childhood is considered as a golden period of life and the memories are forever etched in the heart. But, it wasn’t the same in the case of Amol Bhavari. For him, his childhood was all about battling with recurrent respiratory papillomatosis (RRP), since the age of 3. After he underwent a test, it was revealed that he suffers from a rare respiratory disorder in which one may develop small, wart-like growths (papillomas) in the respiratory tract. It is a disease in which benign (noncancerous) tumors called papillomas to grow in the air passages leading from the nose and mouth into the lungs (respiratory tract). Although the tumors can grow anywhere in the respiratory tract, they most commonly grow in the larynx (voice box)—a condition called laryngeal papillomatosis. The papillomas may vary in size and grow very quickly. They often grow back after they have been removed. One can get it owing to the human papillomavirus (HPV)/ airborne infection/ if the mother has genital papilloma/ due to inhaling the dust.
Amol exhibited symptoms like hoarseness of voice, breathing, speaking difficult, and cough. After every 4 months, he would undergo surgery to get rid of the papillomas in the respiratory tract in Pune. A tracheostomy was done on him to help him breathe freely (is a small surgical opening that is made through the front of the neck into the windpipe, or trachea). But nothing helped him keep these papillomas at bay. Till now, Amol underwent 54 surgeries with the help of microdebrider. In May 2019, he was referred to Kohinoor Hospital and he underwent a 55th surgery on June 6th.
Dr. Sanjay Helale, ENT specialist and HOD at Kohinoor Hospital, said, “He represented symptoms of asthmatics and was misdiagnosed of asthma initially. RRP is rare, and 1 in 5,000 may suffer from it. Amol’s diagnostic endoscopy was done at Kohinoor hospital, after which he was treated with coblation (a new method where the surgeon uses an electrically powered handpiece that ‘burns’ tissues using low temperatures) and laser therapy. The surgery was performed with the help of apnoea technique which is alternate intubation and extubation, and surgery in between. Also, a drug named cidofovir was injected which is an antiviral agent to reduce the recurrence of papillomas. The patient is discharged now and has been asked not to speak loudly and rest. If he would have not been treated at the right time, he would have choked, and lost his life too.”
“Hence, there is a need for organizing a support group for such patients, as they not only undergo physical, but financial stress too. There is no other cure for this condition and surgery is the only option which is painful. I urge ENT surgeons to support such patients and help them tackle this condition. Moreover, patients should also remember that they should take treatment in a well-equipped hospital where their larynx and voice can be preserved, as due to the number of surgeries, the respiratory tract gets distorted, and one may end up with a permanent hole in the neck,” Dr. Helale added.
Patient Amol Bhavari said, “I was 3 when I was diagnosed with recurrent respiratory papillomatosis (RRP), and it made my life miserable. Being able to communicate effectively is the most important of all life skills. But I was unable to speak or breathe. Everyone in school and college or around me, would often ask me that what is wrong with me? Why can’t I speak properly? But I had no answer to these questions. This condition bogged me down, not only physically, but emotionally and mentally as well. I would get cough constantly and hence could not even eat my favorite food- ice cream. There was a financial crunch too but somehow, we could manage my surgeries. I underwent 55th surgery at Kohinoor Hospital, and I am feeling better now, and I thank the hospital for helping me communicate freely, and hope the papillomas don’t recur.”