Local News

Local Man Undergoes New, Less Invasive Surgery To Remove Tumor

Posted April 18, 2003

— A Raleigh man recently learned that tumors do not have to be cancerous to cause trouble.

Surgery is the common way to treat benign pituitary tumors, but a new, less invasive technique made Chris Suckell's life a lot easier.

He started to feel dizzy and sick about six months ago.

"The light was very intense for me. Even indoors with the shades drawn I had to wear sunglasses," he said. "I had no idea what it was."

After a trip to an emergency department and several doctor visits, he was diagnosed with a pituitary tumor.

"It was something I had not expected or ever heard of," Suckell said.

The pituitary gland is about the size of a pea and Suckell's tumor was not much larger.

"It's amazing that something that small could control that much and cause so much imbalance in me," he said.

Doctors told Suckell he needed surgery to get rid of it.

"In the past, people have had to have surgeries where incisions would have to be made under the lip. The face would be kind of lifted off the bony structure underneath," said Dr. Brent Senior, an ear, nose and throat specialist.

Senior said the endoscopic technique is an alternative to open surgery.

Dr. Matt Ewend, a neurosurgeon at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said during surgery, he runs a tube with a scope on it through the nose and into the sinus cavity. Then he removes the tumor.

"I think the surgery's actually easier because we can see so much more. And I think it's safer," Ewend said.

"You can't even tell they had surgery. It's really remarkable," Senior said.

Suckell said the decision to have the surgery was simple.

"I wasn't going to have to have any incisions in my head. I wasn't going to have to have anything cut open," he said.

Less than two months after his surgery, Suckell returned to work is eager to get back to work and his active lifestyle.

"I'm in great spirits and ready to get out there and do it," Suckell said.

Patients usually go home from the hospital within a couple of days.


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