Brain surgery conjures up stark images, whether it’s a shaved head or a full craniotomy. For years pituitary tumors, no matter how small, meant an invasive surgery with two doctors and a recovery that wasn’t a walk in the park.
“There’s a newer technique and there are three of us in the state doing it,” says neurosurgeon Jason Cormier of Our Lady of Lourdes.
He is the only physician in the Lafayette area doing the procedure, and it’s changing the face locally of pituitary tumor removal.
“Historically it took two surgeons,” Cormier says. The surgery to remove the growth in the center of the brain behind the nose and eyes once required an ear-nose-throat surgeon to make the initial approach to the base of the brain before a neurosurgeon handled the tumor and then the ENT came back in to close it up. Recovery from these surgeries typically took four to seven days in the hospital before returning home, and the procedure came with a host of possible risks.
Enter endoscopic options.
“It’s one [neurosurgeon] performing the operation and there are no incisions,” Cormier notes. “It’s changed the landscape of what we have to offer and it’s certainly changed the way we deal with these tumors.”
Pituitary tumors are one of the most common growths and make up about 15 percent of tumors. While over 90 percent are benign, many produce an excess amount of the hormone prolactin and need to be removed. Symptoms can be heat and cold intolerance, weakness, coarse hair and nipple discharge, and in some cases can cause vision loss and headaches if they are large enough.
Cormier says there is a lack of awareness that endoscopic removal is a local option. The entire procedure can be done in less than an hour without the risk of infection. Instead of a large operating microscope, the tool used is a camera held in hand that gives a full view of what doctors are dealing with.
“With endoscopy you can see what you’re doing and there’s no more guessing what’s around the corner,” he says.
Given the option, it’s a no-brainer.