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Brain Surgery: Curtis' Story

"I knew something wasn't right," says Curtis Mitchell, a 43-year-old, Silver Spring resident. It was OctoberCurtis Mitchell 2009 and Curtis was experiencing vision and balance problems.

"The double vision was the worst," Curtis explains. "I went to my eye doctor and after a one-minute exam, she told me to go immediately to the hospital."

Curtis headed straight to Holy Cross Hospital, where the Emergency Center staff reviewed his eye exam. The exam noted swelling and bleeding behind his right eye. A magnetic resonance image (MRI) was taken of his brain to see how far the problem went.

Diagnostic Expertise
"Holy Cross Hospital's extensive neuroradiology capabilities offer patients the most advanced imaging technology available," says Anil Narang, DO, neuroradiologist, Holy Cross Hospital. These technologies include magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computerized tomography (CT) scansand Bi-Plane Angiography-an advanced technology that produces real-time images of complex structures and vessels from two different angles.

Curtis' MRI showed he had a large tumor, about the size of a baseball, behind his right eye. The tumor had probably been growing for a couple of years and was now pressing on important areas of the brain that gave him his symptoms.

After reviewing Curtis' imaging, the neuroradiologist provided this critical information to Amin Amini, MD, medical director, Neurosurgery, Holy Cross Hospital.

"His condition was serious and needed immediate attention. After reviewing his scans and based on my experience, I was certain we could remove Curtis' tumor while preserving the many important structures around it," Dr. Amini says.

Brain Surgery
Curtis was admitted to the Neuro Critical Care Unit. "The nurses were excellent. Their positive attitudes and encouragement really made a difference for me," Curtis says. "And, Dr. Amini was fantastic. He was very caring and put me at ease. I had great confidence in him."

While closely monitoring Curtis' cranial nerves and brain stem function, Dr. Amini used a microsurgical technique to delicately peel the tumor off the critical structures of Curtis' brain.

"During the five-hour procedure, we were able to remove the entire tumor while preserving all of Curtis' neurological functions," Dr. Amini explains. The tumor was found to be highly invasive and as a result, Curtis needed additional treatment.

During the following year, Curtis had radiation therapy and eight months of chemotherapy. "They keep an eye on me,"he says. "I used to have an MRI every month, but now it's every six months."

Surviving Cancer
Curtis is back to work full time, seeing better than ever and looking forward to a trip to the South Pacific.

"Although, first up is Las Vegas," he says with a smile.

Dr. Amini is thrilled with Curtis' progress. He says, "This is a great outcome for such an aggressive tumor. Not long ago, patients with this kind of tumor didn't survive more than a year. Now, with new surgical approaches and ground-breaking drugs, we see patients like Curtis going strong well beyond what we used to expect."

Learn more about brain surgery at Holy Cross Hospital

Watch Holy Cross Hospital specialists talk about expert brain and spine care

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