Doctors working on tests to remove silent tumors successfully

Doctors are using high tech tests to make sure life-saving surgeries are successful against a type of tumor that grows silently.

Cynthia Sucher never imagined she’d be getting strapped into a safety harness where physical therapists would be measuring her reaction to being purposely moved off-kilter.

“Maybe 10 years ago or more, I had an episode of vertigo where things were starting to swim. My first thought was, ‘I have a brain tumor.’ Little did I know that I did,” Sucher said.

But that diagnosis did not come for almost a decade. For years, Sucher attributed minor symptoms to normal aging.

When Sucher’s facial muscles started to freeze, she sought out specialists.

“Vestibular schwannomas grow behind the ear just inside the skull,” Neurosurgeon Ravi Gandhi said.

These tumors are almost always benign, but they have the potential to wrap around the nerves — controlling balance, hearing and facial muscles.

“We’re taking a tumor and peeling it off the nerves of the brain stem. That can make it very difficult,” Gandhi said.

A series of tests measures the impact of the tumor on the nerves and muscles, so surgeons can pre-plan how they’ll approach the tumor.

Surgery to remove the tumor is usually conducted by two specialists — a neurosurgeon and a neurotologist.

The procedure can last 12 to 14 hours and recovery can take six weeks or more.

Reporter:Channing Frampton
Writer:WINK News
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