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Neurosurgery: Yusuf's Story

Treasure Moments with Family and FriendsYusuf and Michelle Muhammed

For Yusuf Muhammed, 38, and his wife, Michelle, Thanksgiving Day 2008 is a day they remember with gratitude. What started out as a headache on that day ended with brain surgery just two days later.

The journey began with the Muhammeds, of Silver Spring, enjoying a typical Thanksgiving dinner with family and friends.

"We had a very nice day, and in the evening after dinner, everyone was relaxing," Yusuf says. "I was tired and developed a headache, so I took a few pain relievers and went to lie down."

A few hours later, he awoke with an intense headache.

"I took more medicine, and it had no effect at all," he says. "I began to sense that something was seriously wrong."

Michelle was extremely concerned and rushed her husband to the Emergency Center at Holy Cross Hospital.

A Frightening Diagnosis

At Holy Cross Hospital, Yusuf received an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan, which uses magnetic waves to provide detailed images of the body and is especially useful in seeing inside the brain.

The tests revealed that a tumor was pressing against Yusuf's pituitary gland, a small gland about the size of a pea that sits at the base of the brain behind the nose. This gland makes hormones that affect growth and the functions of other glands in the body.

The tumor had started to bleed into itself, causing it to expand even more. As a result, it also was putting pressure on the optic nerve, which transmits visual information from the retina to the brain.
It was a complicated diagnosis, and it required immediate treatment.

"I needed to perform surgery as soon as possible to remove the tumor," says Amin Amini, MD, medical director, Neurosurgery. "Waiting could have affected Mr. Muhammed's vision and possibly caused irreversible blindness."

Patients at Holy Cross Hospital have 24-hour access to neurology and neurosurgery specialists, allowing us to respond to these types of emergencies without patients having to travel for care.

Teaming up for Great Results

Dr. Amini and David A. Bianchi, MD, otolaryngology, teamed up to design a minimally invasive surgical plan to remove the tumor from Yusuf's brain through his nostril. Working side-by-side during the intense four-hour operation, Dr. Bianchi, an accomplished head and neck surgeon, opened up the nose to provide access for Dr. Amini, a highly skilled neurosurgeon, to remove the tumor. The team used surgical microscopes to view the small structures.

Yusuf's brain surgery was successful, and the tumor was ultimately found to be benign.

An Exceptional Program

Our Neurosurgery Program offers excellent interdisciplinary care and advanced treatment to patients who require general neurosurgery, neuro-oncology care and minimally invasive treatments.

Dr. Amini's areas of expertise include brain and spine tumors, minimally invasive spine surgeries, and radiosurgery. He has written more than 40 scientific papers, abstracts and chapters for neurosurgery journals and textbooks.

"With Dr. Amini as medical director of neurosurgery, we can enhance and further build the hospital's neurosurgical services, thereby treating our growing number of neurology patients with state-of-the-art neurosurgical techniques for a wide range of procedures," says Andrew Barbash, MD, medical director, Neuroscience.

Minimally Invasive Brain Surgery

"When we found out Yusuf would need brain surgery, we were very scared," Michelle says. "But amazingly, because of the technology used, the surgeons were able to operate through Yusuf's nose, which is minimally invasive and means that he was released home within a few days."

Yusuf is doing very well and is expected to make a full recovery.

"I'll need some follow-up care, and I have a small scar under my nose that should go away," he says. "Other than that, I'm back to normal."

When thinking about all that has happened, Michelle urges her family and friends to remember that every day with family is a blessing and to treasure those moments.


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