A team of professionals with the UF Health Skull Base Center worked diligently to review Fells’ files, discussing test results and using their decadeslong combined neurological expertise to consider potential treatment options.
It became clear to the team that Fells’ case was both incredibly unique and complicated due to the location of the tumor. It was surrounded by critical structures of the brain, particularly the brainstem and arteries and vessels, making it more challenging than usual. Surgery on this location of the brain had only been performed once before, in Europe.
It’s common for patients with brain tumors to be given three potential options: monitor the tumor, perform surgery or receive radiation treatment. Due to the size and location of the tumor and the debilitating effect it was having on Fells’ life, Tavanaiepour recommended surgery. However, this complex procedure came with high risks, including the possibility of stroke, which Tavanaiepour explained carefully to Fells. His comforting bedside manner put her at ease.
“The way he spoke was very transparent,” Fells said with gratitude. “I was confident about the surgery. I trusted God, and I trusted the doctors.”
The case was discussed at tumor board, which comprised neuroradiology, proton therapy and other experts. It was unanimously agreed upon to proceed with surgical intervention.
The final decision to operate required all hands on deck. Working alongside Tavanaiepour were two accomplished UF Health Jacksonville neurosurgeons: Grzegorz Brzezicki, MD, PhD and Gazanfar Rahmathulla, MD; as well as Dinesh Rao, MD, the chief of neuroradiology.
“Dr. Brzezicki specializes in arteries and veins, so he came up with a plan for the venous channel that was blocking access to the tumor,” Tavanaiepour said. “Dr. Rahmathulla and I discussed how to take the tumor component out. At the same time, Dr. Rao examined MRI images to make sure we didn’t come across additional obstacles.”