Adenoma Story: Seeing Clearly Again After Pituitary Tumor Removal

Jimmie Battle, of Trotwood, a retired electrician first visited his eye doctor when he began having symptoms such as an inability to see at night and a reduction in peripheral vision. Jimmie thought he might have a cataract.

But an ophthalmologist referred him for an MRI and an appointment with Dr. Theodore Bernstein, a neurosurgeon with Neurosurgery, Inc. Subsequently it was discovered a pituitary tumor was causing Jimmie's vision problems.

The pituitary gland secretes several essential hormones. Tumors in this gland account for about ten percent of all primary brain tumors, according to Dr. Bernstein.

"Tumors arising from the pituitary gland are called adenomas, and are generally benign and slow growing. They can be found at any age but tend to increase as we get older," he says.

Treating tumors like Jimmie's requires a team of physicians and medical professionals, including a neurosurgeon, otolaryngologist (ear, nose and throat specialist), endocrinologist and ophthalmologist.

"Patients receive baseline testing to determine visual fields and hormones. These tests determine the best course of treatment," explains Dr. Bernstein.

Jimmie initially had his tumor removed via surgery. When a pituitary tumor is found, either microscopic or endoscopic transphenoidal (through the nose and sinuses) surgery can be used. In Jimmie's case, additional radiation treatments were necessary.

Dr. Bernstein also utilizes intra-operative scans and advanced technology called STEALTH to assure the precise location of tumors and minimize complications during and after surgery.

Upon waking up from his operation, Jimmie noticed an immediate and dramatic change. He could see proper distances, his periphery vision returned, and his depth perception was normal. Jimmie was told by doctors treating him that the body can make adjustments when tumors affect vision; that's why he didn't realize things were as bad as they were and saw such a difference after surgery.

Since surgeons could only remove about 95 percent of the tumor due to its location, Jimmie will remain under their care for careful monitoring.

Dr. Bernstein said, when tumors like Jimmie's arise, Kettering Health Network (KHN) can offer the best treatments available.

Marilyn Reed, BSN, RN, a neuro nurse specialist with KHN, said both microscopic and endoscopic transphenoidal surgery are available at Kettering Medical Center. "Jimmie's back to doing all the things he was before. We do these surgeries all the time with good success."

Meningioma Story: Meningioma Microsurgery Gives Woman Her Life Back

About thirty years ago when Martha Hershey of Muncie, Indiana had surgery for a benign Meningioma-a brain tumor arising from the lining of the brain-her recovery was long and difficult.

"I had a tube in my head and I stayed in the hospital for at least a week," she recalls. "I couldn't do for myself when I went home. I couldn't drive for six months and I had to practically stay tethered to my husband."

Plus she lost her memory for a short time, and her taste buds and ability to smell permanently.

Times have changed dramatically, and so have treatments for tumors like these, says Dr. Jamal Taha, a neurosurgeon with Advanced Neurosurgery. "With advanced surgical technology-called STEALTH-combined with microsurgical techniques through a small-scalp incision, the entire tumor was removed, and Martha did not experience any deficits. She was discharged to her daughter's home three days after surgery."

"It was a piece of cake this time," adds Martha. "It's just an entirely different experience. I got back to driving and socializing and going to church very quickly." Martha had her surgery at Kettering Medical Center on April 30th, 2009. By the 14th she returned home to Muncie.

Martha and her late husband learned she had a brain tumor the first time after troubling symptoms appeared then got much worse. She wasn't sleeping and she couldn't cook or clean due to a lack of strength.

Martha would forget things she intended to do, and she cried all the time for no apparent reason. Her husband initially thought her symptoms were of a psychiatric nature. But when she became unable to dress herself, it was discovered a brain tumor the size of a small grapefruit had been slowly growing.

Dr. Taha said meningioma tumors often get quite large before symptoms occur. "If the tumor is accessible, surgery is the standard treatment. If that's too risky, the patient may be closely observed with ongoing MRI testing. Sometimes we recommend Gamma Knife." This radio-surgery requires no scalpel.

About seven years ago, Martha was diagnosed with another tumor about the size of a pea and it was decided it could be left alone for a while. However, repeated MRIs indicated it grew, and Martha's family became concerned when she again became tired, had terrible headaches and blurted silly things out of context. "My grandson was especially worried. He told me I should have it out."

Martha's Indiana surgeon told her she would likely die or have a stroke if she had the surgery.

Then Martha's grandson, a former Kettering Health Network employee, got in touch with medical professionals hoping Martha's tumor could be treated non-invasively.

Even though Martha's tumor turned out to be too large for the Gamma Knife, Dr. Taha felt confident micro-surgery would be successful in her case. "Sometimes patients think they have to travel out of the area for this type of advanced approach but we have the best technology right here in Dayton," he says.

Still, after her initial experience years ago, Martha admits she was hesitant to go through it again. Everyone in Martha's family was pleasantly surprised when she recovered so easily. Her troubling symptoms disappeared, and there were no permanent losses like the first time.

Martha and her husband raised four kids and have eight grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren. She is again enjoying an active lifestyle. "I'm back on my own."