Removal of brain bone tumour creates history

By: New Zealand Association of Plastic  05-Apr-2012


A 60-year-old pre-school manager from Stokes Valley has made medical history after becoming the first woman to have a bone tumour deep within her skull removed successfully at Hutt Hospital.

The surgery carried major risks but if the tumour hadn't been removed from Theresa Signal, she could have suffered a deadly stroke.

The bone tumour inside Signal was the size of a squash ball and was growing deep inside her head, extending from her jawbone to her brain.

The tumour tangled itself up in the main artery supplying blood to the brain and a CT scan showed it had gone into the skull base with the carotid artery wrapping itself right around it.

The surgery was risky to perform as the tumour was not only deeply embedded and tricky to access but one slip by the surgeons could have caused a major stroke.

Plastic and maxillofacial surgeon Professor Swee Tan performed the four hour surgery on Signal. He was helped by neurosurgeon Ales Aliaskevich, whose job was to burr the tumour out, taking care not to hit the vital artery.

Burring is a medical term, also known as trepanning, whereby a hole is drilled or scraped into the human skull, exposing the brain.

After the surgery, Signal was wheeled into recovery. All going well, Signal should be back at work in three months.

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