Advanced surgery at local hospital

Altoona, Blair County, Pa. - Doctors at a local hospital now offer advanced surgery to remove some of the hardest to reach brain tumors.
In traditional brain surgery, doctors cut  into your scalp and drill  into your skull to remove  a piece of it to get to your  brain. For a tumor at the base of the  skull, they might  also cut into the face, and even lift the brain.  
But a  procedure, pioneered at UPMC is much less invasive, less  risky, and can mean a quicker, easier recovery.
Last December, doctors performed the first endoscopic endonasal approach, or EEA surgery at UPMC Altoona, to remove a pituitary cyst pressing on the patient's optic nerve.
In simple terms, they went through the nose, to remove a tumor at the base of the brain.  "If that cyst  continued to remain there and grow, it could cause visual damage and blindness," said  Dr. Ali Kooshkabadi, Neurosurgeon, UPMC Altoona.
Dr. Kooshkabadi teamed up with UPMC Altoona  ear, nose, and throat specialist Dr Elliot Bilofsky for the procedure
"What my job is, is to get the neurosurgeon to the area where the pituitary gland lives," explained Dr. Bilofsky. He said  a narrow telescope with a camera, called an endoscope makes that task possible.
Picking up the device, he demonstrated saying, "We can stick this directly into the nose and as we're right in the nose. This  camera device allows not only myself, the neurosurgeon and the entire crew in the operating room to do what ever we're doing."
Patients are asleep under general anesthesia during the surgery.
Dr Kooshkabadi says it's key that surgeon and ENT work  as a team. "It's all about being able to finely maneuver so there's advanced drills, advanced suction tips and obviously the most important tool is the actual endoscope itself," he said. 
The neurosurgeon removes the tumor tiny bit by bit, with suction and micro-scissors, and it's sent to a pathologist for testing.
"This is her post-op MRI and we can see the gland and optic nerve with no signs of pressure on the  optic nerve," he said, showing images taken after the procedure.
The tumor wasn't malignant, and the patient is doing well.
The EEA procedure is for benign and cancerous tumors at the base of the skull. The doctors say patients recover more quickly, have fewer complications, and no scarring.

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