What is an endoscopic skull base surgery?

When a 50-year-old Costa Rican man began to lose his sight, became increasingly weak, then collapsed early last year, he was taken to the local emergency room. Doctors there discovered a tumor on his pituitary gland the size of a tangerine. The growth was benign but was pressing on his optic nerve and encroaching on other parts of his brain. Surgeons on the island tried removing the tumor using a new, minimally invasive approach – operating through the patient's nose – but got only a fraction of the tumor. As his condition deteriorated he contacted neurosurgeons at several major US hospitals in a search for one who would be willing to try the same, minimally invasive procedure. Each doctor he spoke to told him this approach was impossible, that it would be necessary to remove the tumor by opening up his skull. Then, through the internet, he found Theodore Schwartz, MD, and Vijay K. Anand, MD.

Dr. Schwartz, a neurosurgeon, and Dr. Anand, an otolaryngologist work as a team at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, and each year perform 50 to 60 minimally invasive surgeries on the skull base, the complex area of the brain behind the face where the pituitary gland is located. Drs. Schwartz and Anand studied this patient's medical records, told him they would be able to get his tumor out, and after he flew to New York they removed the growth through his nose. Two weeks after the operation he was back on his feet, his vision was returning, and now, a year later, he is fully recovered.

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