Innovative brain surgery gives Ken new lease on life

A world-leading surgery technique to remove a significant brain tumour through the nasal cavity has given Ken Newbold a new lease on life.

Performed at Calvary Wakefield Hospital in Adelaide, South Australia, by ear, nose and throat surgeon Dr Harshita Pant and neurosurgeon Dr Marguerite Harding, the 11-hour-operation successfully removed Ken’s aggressive neuroendocrine tumour – which had failed to respond to chemotherapy and radio therapy.

Without the surgery, the 80-year-old could have faced rapid progression of the tumour with significant morbidity. Instead, the determined Yorketown farmer is now hoping to be back on his tractor in the coming weeks.

“A tumour of this size and type, most centres would consider removing the traditional way, through an open incision in the skull, but with the expertise that we have here we were able to remove it entirely through the nose and reconstruct the defect successfully,” Dr Pant said.

“This approach leads to a much faster recovery time and improved quality of life for patients.”

The novel approach to the removal of the rare and sizeable tumour is a first for Calvary Wakefield Hospital, a leading neurosurgical private hospital in South Australia.

Dr Pant said the challenge of the approach is to reconstruct the skull base defect to avoid leakage of brain fluid (cerebrospinal fluid- CSF) through the nose.

To achieve positive results for Mr Newbold, Dr Pant used a unique technique to reconstruct the defect by using tissue with its own blood supply harvested from the patient’s forehead to close the defect – a technique learned during her fellowship in Pittsburgh, USA and brought to Australia to benefit Australian patients.

“Endoscopic skull base surgery is true team surgery, involving a neurosurgeon and ENT surgeon who specialises in advanced sinus surgery to treat patients with specific tumours affecting the nose, sinuses, brain and pituitary,” Dr Harding said.

Dr Harding is a specialist neurosurgeon who trained in South Africa and is a fellow of the RACS. She has special interest in brain tumour surgery, vascular, pituitary and meningioma surgery and has worked as staff specialist at the Royal Adelaide Hospital for the past 10 years.

Dr Pant is a graduate of Flinders University and learned the revolutionary surgical procedure while spending a year at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Centre in the USA as a fellow and clinical instructor in minimally invasive skull base surgery, rhinology and allergy. She specialises in advanced endoscopic sinus surgery and skull base surgery in adult and paediatric patients using minimally invasive approaches.

Mr Newbold is also grateful for the support of his referring doctor, Dr Silver, at the Yorketown Medical Centre.

Image reproduced with the kind permission of the Adelaide Advertiser