Lloyd Fox, Baltimore Sun
June 24, 2010
Facial plastic and reconstructive surgeon, Kofi Boahene, left, and neurosurgeon Alfredo Quinones-Hinojosa standing behind a MRI image of a patient's skull.
When Liane Lefever complained to her doctor about a persistent earache, an examination found a much more serious problem: a brain tumor.
For many Americans, that diagnosis could have led to invasive surgery - including slicing open her skull - and a long recovery. But with an innovative procedure being pioneered by two doctors from Johns Hopkins Hospital, her tumor was removed through a small incision in her eyelid."When you tell people you had brain surgery, the first thing people always do is look for a scar, and that's what's amazing; there isn't one," said Lefever, 47, who lives in Manheim, Pa. "Anyone who needs to go through this should know it's not that big of a deal even if it sounds like it is."
The Hopkins doctors first used the procedure three years ago, and it's still relatively rare - there have been only about 18 patients so far at the hospital. But the doctors, who published this month the first studies on the procedure, hope to add more patients and varieties of the surgery. Eventually, they believe, a quarter of tumors could be removed and many other repairs could be made this way.
The method adds another entry point to the brain for surgeons who are also going through the nose and eyebrow. And it means many more patients with common brain maladies could avoid traditional surgery - as well as its complications and costs.