Intricate Brain Surgery Saves Rose Beverly's Sight
“When the headaches struck, they were so bad that they woke me up at night,” recalls Rose Beverly. “The pain was terrible.” During the day, the 74-year-old Washington, D.C., resident often felt lightheaded and dizzy, and she also was having trouble with her vision.
When she fell in her home, she decided it was time to see her doctor. An MRI of her brain revealed a pituitary tumor and Rose was quickly referred to Zachary Levine, MD, medical director, Neurosurgery, Holy Cross Hospital.
Experts in Neurosurgery
At Holy Cross Hospital, the neuroscience team of neurologists, neurosurgeons, neuroradiologists and specially trained nurses work together to plan the best possible, least invasive treatment option for every patient.
“I always look first for a non-surgical treatment,” Dr. Levine says. “In some cases, pituitary tumors secrete a hormone, which makes it grow. For these cases we can shrink the tumor with medication without having to do surgery.”
As part of Rose’s diagnostic assessment, Dr. Levine ordered a hormone study, which showed that her tumor could not be treated with medication and would require surgery. Left untreated, a pituitary tumor can cause blindness. At one time, this type of surgery would have required a lengthy hospital stay and recovery period.
Fortunately for Rose, the neuroscience experts at Holy Cross Hospital are highly skilled in performing microsurgery to remove brain tumors—making a surgery like hers far less invasive with a quicker recovery.
Brain Surgery Through the Nose
D r. Levine explained to Rose that he would operate with David Bianchi, MD, otolaryngologist, Holy CrossHospital, to remove the tumor through her nose.
“The pituitary gland sits at the base of the brain behind the nose,” Dr. Bianchi explains. “If a patient has a tumor on the pituitary gland, the nasal passage offers the best, least invasive access to it.”
“I was scared, but once I understood how Dr. Levine was going to do the operation, I felt okay,” Rose says. “He’s a good doctor.”
Neurosurgeons at Holy Cross Hospital use the advanced technology of the Stealth Neuro-Navigation System and a 3-D MRI scan to plot a course through the brain to remove tumors. Once Dr. Bianchi provided access to the tumor through Rose’s nose, Dr. Levine took over and navigated precisely to the tumor.
“Not only is this a really tight area for operating, but Rose’s tumor was wrapped around the carotid artery,” Dr. Levine explains. “The advanced technology enables us to achieve the type of precision and safety needed to avoid critical structures such as the carotid artery.”
Thankfully, Rose’s tumor was benign. She was hospitalized for only four days after her surgery in Holy Cross Hospital’s Neuro Critical Care Unit, where a team of experts monitored her around the clock. Rose says, “I was really amazed that the tumor could be removed without having a large incision in my head.”
A Fast Recovery
Since her operation in May, Rose feels much better and her eyesight is completely restored. It wasn’t long before she was back to driving to the store and to church, and she’s looking forward to returning to her exercise class.
“My daughter stayed with me for four days after I left the hospital,” Rose says. “Then, I told her to go on home. She just laughed and said, ‘I may as well. You’re already doing everything yourself!’”