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Youngstown accountant-turned-beautician recovering from innovative brain surgery

Published: Wed, July 2, 2014 @ 11:10 p.m.


Robert Matthews of Youngstown came out of potentially life-threatening brain surgery to remove a tumor at the base of his skull without a scar on his head.

Using an innovative technique, Cleveland Clinic physicians — a neurosurgeon and an ear, nose and throat surgeon — accessed Matthews’ skull through his nose rather than performing the traditional craniotomy.

Part of the Minimally Invasive Cranial Base and Pituitary Surgery Program at the Cleveland Clinic, hospital officials say the technique is becoming more widely accepted, but is still being done at only 12-15 hospitals in the nation.

It is typically done for skull-base tumors, which are dangerous to remove surgically because they are typically located very close to critical nerves, blood vessels and structures in the brain, neck and spinal cord.

Matthews, 47, is glad the Cleveland Clinic is one of the hospitals that use the technique and also is glad his best friend, Joseph Rochette, recommended he seek a second opinion at the clinic. He first was told the tumor removal would require a craniotomy.

A craniotomy involves cutting the skin covering the skull and surgically removing a part of the skull bone to access the brain.

Matthews, a beautician who formerly worked as an accountant, said he definitely knows he had brain surgery in March and still is feeling some of the effects.

But he said doctors told him the difference in recovery time is four to six weeks compared to four to six months for a craniotomy.

Read more about this intriguing technique and Robert's recovery in Thursday's Vindicator or on Vindy.com.

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