Children's Hospital Colorado
Colorado Fetal Care Center

Sacrococcygeal Teratoma (SCT)

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What is sacrococcygeal teratoma?

A sacrococcygeal teratoma (SCT) is a tumor that grows from the tailbone of a developing baby. This type of teratoma can grow out from the tailbone, into the pelvis, or both.

While many sacrococcygeal teratomas are small and we can manage them after birth, some may need treatment while the baby is still in the womb. As a parent, learning that your baby may have a sacrococcygeal teratoma can be unsettling. But the Colorado Fetal Care Center is at the forefront of treatment and care for this condition.

Sacrococcygeal teratomas can vary in size, shape and consistency. While most are small and benign (non-cancerous and don’t usually spread), some babies can develop larger growths or may have malignant (cancerous) cells. Many different tumors are associated with this condition. However, they are mostly benign and, in most cases, we can successfully remove them after birth.

What causes SCT?

Sacrococcygeal teratomas are made of up cells that develop abnormally. Although the cause of this abnormal development is not completely understood, we are conducting research to better understand underlying causes and the possible connection to genetic disorders.

How common are sacrococcygeal teratomas?

Sacrococcygeal teratomas are one of the most common types of congenital (present at birth) germ cell tumors, although they are rare when looking at all pregnancies. They occur in an average of 1 in every 35,000 births and are three times more common in females than males.

Sacrococcygeal teratoma complications

Depending on the size of the teratoma, complications can vary. If the mass is small, there are often no complications and the pregnancy continues without problems. In these cases, we can usually successfully remove the teratoma after birth with no lasting impact to the baby or mother.

If the teratoma grows rapidly during pregnancy, it can create many complications that impact both the mother and baby. Because these tumors can be very large, severe cases put the baby at risk of:

  • Heart failure
  • Blocking the urinary system
  • Kidney damage
  • Tumor rupture
  • Polyhydramnios (too much amniotic fluid around the baby during pregnancy)
  •  Fetal hydrops (abnormal fluid accumulation within the baby)

Sacrococcygeal teratomas can also be tied to other conditions such as spina bifida (myelomeningocele), so it's important to get a thorough evaluation to rule out additional issues.

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