Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi Surgeons Remove 4.5 - Centimeter Brain Tumor Using Specialized Surgery
Surgeons at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi have saved the life of a young woman suffering from a rare brain tumor using surgery not available anywhere else in the country.
Marwa Ahmed, a 30-year old office administrator, is fortunate to have made a full recovery after she was rushed into urgent surgery at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi suffering from a 4.5-centimeter benign tumor on the left side of her brain.
“I never thought I had a brain tumor,” says Marwa. “I used to suffer from muscle pain in my shoulders, so I thought perhaps I had a bad sitting posture at work. As it got worse, other doctors recommended physiotherapy, injections or iron tablets.”
Having suffered worsening symptoms for the previous four years and visited a number of different doctors, Marwa’s breakthrough came when she was finally diagnosed with the tumor and referred to Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi suffering from severe headaches, vomiting, muscle pain and numbness on the left side of her face.
“I was dizzy all the time,” says Marwa. “I wasn’t eating because of severe nausea and headaches. I was no longer able to walk alone. I was worried I was going to fall any time.”
Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi physicians confirmed the diagnosis and initially rushed to relieve the pressure on Marwa’s brain by implanting a medical device known as a ventriculoperitoneal shunt, a thin tube and a valve inserted into the brain that sits under the skin and works to drain away excess fluid.
“When we saw Marwa we knew that her tumor had grown to such a size that there was no other option for her condition than to operate,” says Dr. Florian Roser, chief of neurosurgery at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi. “Without it, the pressure on her brain would have slowly increased, leading first to unconsciousness and eventually to death.”
After a few days in recovery from the shunt implant, Marwa was back in the operating room, undergoing a procedure to remove the brain tumor, located at the base of the skull.
Risks associated with the highly complex operation included stroke-like symptoms, double vision, numbness in the face and the possibility of not being able to swallow or requiring a tracheotomy.
The surgery itself required a large medical team. This included an electrophysiologist whose job was to observe that Marwa’s nerves continued to function during the operation. The team also included experienced neuro-anesthesiologists who ensured that Marwa remained sedated throughout the operation, and neuro-ICU physicians who ensured no post-operative infections occurred.
After a short recovery in the hospital Marwa was able to return home to her parents and a month after the operation she was able to return to work. She currently attends outpatient check-ups in the hospital and will have to undergo a regular MRI scan every two years.
“The sort of skull base tumor that affected Marwa occurs in just 4 in every 100,000 people,” Dr. Roser says. “There is no known reason why they occur. These nerve tumors grow very slowly over many years and can reach substantial size until they produce symptoms like Marwa’s. She had no family history and there were no diet or environmental factors to suggest why this might happen. Marwa was very lucky that she was referred to Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, which is the only hospital in the UAE where this type of surgery is regularly performed.”
Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi’s Neurological Institute provides diagnosis and comprehensive treatment of neurological disorders including general neurology, movement and neuromuscular disorders, pituitary disorders, neuro-oncology and adult epilepsy. It also offers surgical treatment for cranial, spinal and neurovascular interventions.