Removing Brain Tumors

September 25, 2009 7:13:04 PM PDT
This year, 24,000 Americans will be diagnosed with a benign brain tumor. Even if it's not cancerous, a tumor can still be life-threatening depending on its size and location. Removing it used to mean hours of open surgery. But now, a less invasive approach has patients out of the OR in half an hour.High school senior Cameron Hall throws an 85-mile-an-hour fast ball and has a great eye for the strike zone, but while he was working on his pitching, a tumor was growing in his brain. The brain tumor -- called a colloid cyst -- was causing a build-up of fluid. Cameron needed surgery.

"At first, I was shocked," Cameron told Ivanhoe. "I didn't know what to think. Then I tried to calm down and say, 'I gotta do it. I gotta get it over with."

Traditionally, removing the tumor meant a craniotomy -- making a large incision and removing part of the skull. Now, surgeons can pass a 6 mm endoscope into the brain through a pea-sized incision. Tools sent through the scope pull the tumor out. A camera helps doctors avoid vital veins in the brain.

"Damage to these draining veins could result in a catastrophic stroke," Costas Hadjipanayis, M.D., Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Neurosurgery at Emory University in Atlanta, Ga., told Ivanhoe.

Cameron's surgery took less than 30 minutes.

"I was back in school two weeks after it, and a month after it, I was pitching," Cameron said. "I came back real quick."

Eight months later, Cameron has one small scar on his forehead ? and two very grateful parents.

"I told him there's nothing he could face on the baseball field that's tougher than what he's gone through, so he should be able to handle most anything he wants to do," Cameron's father, Phil Hall, told Ivanhoe.

For now, there's plenty of time to dream.

Emory University is one of about half a dozen centers in the United States doing this less-invasive brain surgery. Doctors say patients who have the procedure spend far less time in the hospital, recover more quickly and experience fewer complications.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:

Emory HealthConnection
(404) 778-2000
http://www.emoryhealthcare.org/departments/neuro_surgery

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