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Removing Tumor Via Nose Speeds Recovery

A new procedure allows neurosurgeons and otolaryngologists at Barnes-Jewish Hospital to remove tumors not through a major incision, but less invasively through a patient’s nose. The endonasal, skull-based procedures allow patients diagnosed with some neurologic tumors fewer complications and a quicker recovery.

Traditionally, many skull-based tumors were removed through an incision underneath the lip from incisor to incisor. While effective, many patients experienced numbness of upper gums and teeth, suffered issues with eating and drinking after surgery and initially would have significant discomfort.

“Patients go home three days after surgery with no pain and only are taking Tylenol,” says Greg Zipfel, MD, Washington University neurosurgeon. “They’re getting back to work within days where in the past it would have been weeks.”

The procedure is primarily used to remove pituitary tumors. For those who have tumors removed in this less invasive fashion, they don’t even have their nose packed in recovery. “That’s the most common question a patient has,” says Ravi Uppaluri, MD, Washington University otolaryngologist. “They may have a sense of nasal congestion or a cold but that’s it.”

Dr. Zipfel sees more tumors being removed this way as technologies evolve, avoiding open surgeries and some of the complications that go along with that.

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