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New 'scarless' surgery takes out tumors through natural skull opening
Date:10/26/2011

A technique developed by Johns Hopkins surgeons is providing a new route to get to and remove tumors buried at the base of the skull: through the natural hole behind the molars, above the jawbone and beneath the cheekbone.

In a report detailing the novel surgery, published in the October the Laryngoscope, the surgeons say the procedure, already performed in seven patients, yields faster recovery and fewer complications than traditional approaches. And, because the incisions are made inside the cheek, there are no visible scars.

Kofi Boahene, M.D., an assistant professor of facial plastic and reconstructive surgery and otolaryngologyhead and neck surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, says the idea for the new approach came to him when a 20-year-old female patient previously treated for a brain tumor developed a new tumor deep in the skull base.

Traditional surgeries to remove skull base tumors require incisions through the face and bone removal, which can sometimes be disfiguring. Additionally, these operations can harm facial nerves, leading to paralysis that affects facial expressions and days or weeks of hospitalization and recovery. Boahene said he was gazing at a skull model in his office, considering options to spare his patient from another traditional surgery. "I looked at the 'window" that already exists in the skull, above the jawbone and below the cheekbone and realized this was an access route not previously recognized for this kind of surgery," he said.

Knowing there was always the option of switching to the traditional approach while trying the new approach, Boahene and his colleagues performed the new procedure on his patient last year. The expected surgery time shrunk from six hours to two. Additionally, the patient was able to leave the hospital the next day and return to college, with no visible evidence that she had surgery performed.

The report in the Laryngoscope
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Contact: Christen Brownlee
cbrownlee@jhmi.edu
410-955-7832
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions
Source:Eurekalert

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