A Cut Above

A week after brain surgery, one little boy's cancer is gone! And it's all thanks to a new approach that's raising some eyebrows.

Headaches, dizziness, fainting, vision problems. Each year, 180,000 people will experience this and be told, "You have a brain tumor." Thousands of children are among this group. Now, doctors are taking out the tumor in both young and old without major surgery.

Little Robert Nelson has licked a lot of ice cream the last few days and he deserves it. Less than a week before this interview, Robert underwent brain surgery. A team of neuroscientists from St. John's Health Center used a new approach to get to the tumor -- they went through Robert's eyebrow!

"It's a small, very focused approached that allows us to get and lets us get to where we want to go." Neurosurgeon Dan Kelley makes an incision along the eyebrow, creating an opening in the bone, which allows him access to the base of the skull.

He went under the frontal lobe to get to the tumor near Robert's optic nerve. "We were probably able to remove about 95 to 98 percent of the tumor," says Kelley.

Robert may still need radiation, but that's not the case for most eyebrow craniotomy patients. Compared to the more traditional surgery through the scalp or the nose, eyebrow craniotomy patients leave the hospital in two to three days following surgery. With the eyebrow approach, there is decreased risk of meningitis and leaking spinal fluids.

Now, a week after having his tumor removed, Robert is headed home and it's back to reality for this little guy.

Robert will have to undergo MRI's every three months for two years to make sure the tumor is completely gone. Dr. Kelley says Robert has a good chance of regaining any eyesight lost because of the tumor.

Copyright 2010 WFLX. All Rights Reserved.