Monument Valley in Arizona

Volume 20, No. 4, 2004 Comments

Although benign, acoustic neuromas can radically alter the lives of patients by causing major disabilities such as hearing loss, facial paralysis, and balance disorders. Multidisciplinary treatment is crucial to minimize the deficits associated with these tumors and their treatment. This issue introduces the Barrow Acoustic Neuroma Center (BANC), a team of experts committed to providing patients the advantages available from such coordinated care: comprehensive evaluation, diagnostic testing, and treatment with state-of-the-art technological and medical advances.

The advent of skull base approaches has greatly improved the surgical outcomes of patients with acoustic neuromas. Although surgery offers the only definitive cure, stereotactic radiosurgery can also be an effective tool for controlling these lesions in patients who wish to avoid the inevitable risks associated with surgery. Another alternative, fractionated radiosurgery, may increase the probability of preserving functional hearing and decrease the incidence of trigeminal and facial neuropathy. As readers will find, the expertise offered by our BANC team can help patients choose the most suitable treatment to optimize outcomes for their individual circumstances.

Randall W. Porter, MD, Chief, Interdisciplinary Skull Base Section, and C. Phillip Daspit, MD, and Mark J. Syms, MD, Section of Neurotology, spearheaded this Barrow Quarterly to showcase the efforts of the BANC team. We are justly proud of their work: On October 15, 2004, the BANC team placed their first auditory brainstem implant. This exciting technology, which is similar to cochlear implants, now offers patients who have become deaf due to neurofibromatosis-2, a disorder associated with bilateral acoustic neuromas, the hope of regaining meaningful hearing. Their success is yet another example of the medical miracles that we are privileged to witness almost daily at Barrow and which we are pleased to share with our readers.

Sadly, we note the passing of a beloved colleague. Dr. Hal Pittman, who had practiced neurosurgery in Arizona since the 1950s, passed away on December 9. He will be sorely missed by his many friends and colleagues at Barrow. A remembrance of his life and many contributions can be found at the end of this issue.

Best wishes to you in the New Year. May it be happy and healthy for you and your loved ones.

Robert F. Spetzler, MD