Friday, October 2, 2009

(pituitary) New Technique for Brain Tumor Removal Promises Less Pain

Neurosurgeons are constantly looking for new ways to remove delicate brain tumors. The latest technology allows some of these growths to be removed through the nose.


Louis Leal of Poteet is getting ready for brain surgery. A non-cancerous pituitary tumor is threatening his vision and ruining his overall health. Leal said, "I mean, I'm just so fatigued. It's very, it's moody. You get very moody."

At St. Luke's Baptist Hospital in San Antonio, neurosurgeon Dr. J.D. Day of the UT Health Science Center is performing Leal's surgery in a new way. He starts with a special tool that marries the patient's brain scans to the instruments he'll work with. This image guidance system provides a precise "map" of sorts to help the doctor avoid critical structures while removing the tumor.

When the lights go down, a scope is inserted through one nostril, elongated instruments through the other, allowing the surgeon to work efficiently without an incision.

Day said, "They don't have nearly as much pain. They don't have as much swelling. You know, the good old fashioned way, people would have a cut under their lip, they'd be swollen here through the face, bruised."

The angled scopes and better imaging give the surgeon a much broader view of where he's working. He's able to suck out part of the tumor and use tools to remove the rest through the nostril. This patient's hope is to return to his job soon.

"I come from a family where we're used to working, so I want to get back to work," Leal said.

Dr. Day says patients are able to recover in their own homes much sooner. "Most patients are out of the hospital in two days after having brain surgery," Day said.

Pituitary tumors are some of the most common benign brain tumors. They show up as often as one in 2,500 people. Not all of those require surgery, but for those who need the procedure, this approach through the nose should provide an easier recovery and in theory, a better outcome.

Courtesy of Wendy Rigby with CBS News


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