Peter Clarke didn't think much of the tiny bump on his head until he decided to have it removed several years ago.
|NEURO STORY: PETER CLARKE
"I was awake on the table, with only a local anesthetic, and this simple surgical procedure wouldn't stop bleeding," recalls Peter. "Both the doctor and I knew immediately that it was something else."
A biopsy of the growth determined it was not cancer. But what was it? Finally, it was diagnosed as an invasive skull hemangioma, a tumor which had penetrated Peter's scalp and skull. However, because it was growing at such a slow rate, doctors recommended observing it and not doing anything for the time being.
The tumor started to grow rapidly and began pressing on a vein that runs across the top of the head. Tests revealed the tumor had begun to invade Peter's brain. CT scans were taken of his head so a plate could be built to mimic the shape of his skull. The surgery took place in two stages, with a multidisciplinary surgical team including Dr. Miller, Hunt Batjer, MD, program director of the Institute and a cerebrovascular surgeon, and Michael Caron, MD, associate medical director of the Institute and a neurosurgeon who specializes in tumors.
First, the team used a procedure known as a venous onyx embolization to minimize blood loss by sealing off small arteries attached to and inside the tumor. Use of the onyx material is very demanding.
If the flow is too slow, the material hardens in the catheter. If it's too fast, it can spread in the brain-it's like cement.
It required the world-class equipment now available at the Edward Neurosciences Institute to provide the imaging necessary to see where the "glue" is going. Dr. Caron says the ability to remove the tumor from the brain without having to contend with blood loss makes a successful outcome far more likely.
The day after the embolization, Peter went home, then returned to Edward the following day for stage two, removal of the tumor, which turned out to be the size of a golf ball. However, because of the onyx embolization, the surgery was virtually bloodless.
"Luckily, we could see the sagittal vein was just being pushed aside, not invaded by the tumor," says Dr. Batjer. "The vein must be preserved, or death results."
"The Neurosciences Institute completes our ability to deal with more complex tumors," says Dr. Caron. "And, we have the ability to take on virtually any disorder of the central nervous system."
Peter can attest to that. He went home one day after the surgery to remove the tumor, resumed normal activities shortly thereafter and returned to work just a few weeks later.
Learn more about the Edward Neurosciences Institute at edward.org/neuro.