Patients Stories

Brain tumor is no match for VA neurosurgeon

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  November 8, 2010 at 7:02am facebook
Increasing numbers of young people are getting brain tumors, something that troubles neurosurgeon Dr. Uzma Samadani. Her patient, Tommy Alexander Baijnath, is one of those proud young Army soldiers who had confidence in his health and strength until just two years ago. Weeks before completing his tour in Iraq, Baijnath, then 24 years old, started experiencing terrible headaches and was suddenly losing an alarming amount of weight.

Medevaced to Landstuhl, Germany, his brain tumor was removed and a piece of his skull was replaced with methacrylate cement. He was flown to Walter Read Hospital in Washington, DC for his recovery, which took several months.

Two years later, Baijnath had to face the fact that his symptoms were back. Diagnosed at VA’s Manhattan Campus, a neurosurgery regional referral center, with the regrowth of the tumor, Baijnath was scheduled for surgery with Dr. Samandani. Sophisticated pre-surgery scans indicated clearly that the walnut-sized tumor had grown back. It was invading the sagittal sinus – one of the largest draining veins of the brain.

Baijnath’s surgery was helped by the use of two new technologies – one for image guidance during removal of the tumor, and the other relying on a computer generated reconstruction of the skull. StealthStation7, a visualization technology recently acquired by VA, helps Dr. Samadani by giving her information about the location of the tumor via 3-D pictures of it inside the brain as she operates. During the surgery, the sagittal sinus was opened, and the tumor removed. Once Dr. Samadani was confident that the tumor tissue was removed, a further step in the operation involved the placement of a custom-made skull plate attached with screws to “patch” the skull that had become distorted as a result of the earlier operation. This repaired a small dent in Baijnath’s forehead.

Following the operation, Dr. Samadani was pleased. “He’s done very well,” she said. And, Baijnath was smiling preparing to return home a few days after this complex surgery.