April 3, 2017 | Mary Neal French went in for surgery to remove a bony tumor from her sinus last September and woke up to find the tumor gone. But her surgeon didn’t have to make a single cut.
French said she began having headaches with a lot of pressure in July. She believed it was a sinus infection but found it odd because she had never had a sinus infection, and it was not the typical time of year most people experienced sinus infections.
French’s primary care physician found through a CT scan of her sinuses that she had a bony growth on her left frontal sinus, and said an otolaryngologist would have to remove the tumor surgically. She eventually was recommended to Alissa Kanaan, M.D., an assistant professor and director of the Rhinology Division in the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery in the UAMS College of Medicine.
“I knew it would have to be surgically removed. But I was shocked when I found out how they would have to do it.”
Kanaan was to team up with facial reconstruction surgeon Jennings Boyette, M.D. The doctors explained to French that they would have to make an incision above her forehead extending from one ear to the other. Then, they would peel down her skin from the forehead and drill a hole to reach the bony tumor. Once the tumor was removed, they would place a metal plate over the hole and reattach the skin to her forehead.
“Access to the tumor is complicated because of its location and proximity to the brain,” Kanaan said. “Typically, when lesions are significantly large in the frontal sinus, access through the nose is not adequate for safe and complete tumor removal. We predicted that a combined approach, along with directly accessing the tumor through the forehead would be the most effective way to remove it.”
“Obviously, that was very upsetting and scary,” French said. “I cried during the appointment. Dr. Kanaan and her nurse Vicky could not have been more loving and kind.”
French says she began to prepare herself mentally in the weeks leading up to the surgery. On the day of the operation, her family waited anxiously.
“The facial reconstruction surgeon was there standing by as I began seeing what I could do with my instruments,” Kanaan said. “I was able to pull portions of the tumor out through the nose. The more progress I made, the more encouraged I became. I kept saying, “let’s try this for 15 more minutes.’”
Little by little, Kanaan was able to remove the entire tumor through the nose. It took her six hours. French says her family was overjoyed when Kanaan told them that she was able to remove the tumor without making an incision. “It would have been easier had we done the planned procedure, but this is much better for her and was worth the extra effort. The recovery would have been extensive. Just talking about it was graphic and scary. I’m very happy we were able to remove the tumor endoscopically.”
“I was of course shocked when I woke up and realized what had happened,” French said. “I knew Dr. Kanaan was smart and wonderful. But this showed how much more talented and incredible she is. She truly went above and beyond to make sure I had the best care.”