Less-invasive surgery removes nasal-cavity tumors

April 4, 2011 9:37:24 AM PDT
it's cold and flu season, and that means a lot of us will start suffering symptoms like nasal congestion and sinus headaches.

But sometimes, in teenage boys, those simple symptoms can be a warning sign of something much more serious, an aggressive tumor called JNA. Removing these tumors once meant invasive, open surgery. But now, doctors have pioneered a new approach that can remove these tumors without a single external incision.

For 14-year-old Sam Tessenholtz, the shortest distance from the driveway to the hoop is a quick jump shot. His aim isn't always on target, but he's grateful his surgeon's was.

Last April, Doctor Ramzi Younis discovered a large tumor against Sam's eye socket, pressing on his brain.

"They said it was like a mini tennis ball in my, I don't know what it's called, my nasal cavity or something. Yeah, I didn't want to imagine it," Sam said.

Instead of cutting directly into Sam's face, Doctor Younis performed an innovative procedure going in through the nose, using a new embolizing material called onyx to cut off the tumor's blood supply.

"We identify the tumor with our scope, go and inject, so instead of going through the main supplying vessel, we go through the tumor, and it goes all over," Younis said.

Surgeons were able to remove the large tumor through the nose without a single external incision. To Sam's dad, it was nothing short of incredible.

"The amazing part is they were able to not disfigure him and take the tennis ball out of his head," said dad Steve Tessenholtz.

"The good news is it's out, and I'm normal, and I can breathe," Sam said.

JNA is a rare type of tumor, most commonly affecting teenage boys. These tumors are usually benign, and once removed, they don't come back. Just what causes these tumors is still unclear.