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What Our Patients Say
In 2003, I.M. began to experience periodic episodes of pain in what she thought was her tooth. At first the attacks lasted a minute or two but before long, they became unimaginably bad. She had spells that would last every five to ten minutes, sometimes for periods of several days. After a number of visits to her dentist, desperate to pinpoint the source of her discomfort, the problem just got worse. Eventually, it moved to the side of her nose, then settled just under her bottom teeth, and then became so severe it often prevented her from talking and eating.
It took years of tests and visits to dentists and other specialists until she was diagnosed with trigeminal neuralgia, a disorder of the nerve which carries sensation from the face to the brain. Effective treatment for her condition however, was even more elusive. I.M.'s condition worsened and she was forced to quit her job. Her life was turned upside down.
Then Dr. Rod Acosta, her primary care physician in Stamford, told her about neurosurgeon Dr. Scott Simon who uses the Cyberknife at Stamford Hospital to treat trigeminal neuralgia. The Cyberknife technology is specifically designed for the delivery of stereotactic radiosurgery and operates through collaborative efforts of the neurosurgeon, radiation oncologist, and radiation physicist. Treatment consists of aiming precisely focused beams of radiation on the trigeminal nerve. The hour-long procedure is non-invasive, painless, requires no incision, and patients go home the same day. Desperate and hopeful for relief, I.M. scheduled treatment.
In a preliminary appointment, a mask of her head was created that would be used to calibrate and guide the beams of radiation. Two weeks later she returned for the actual treatment, which lasted about an hour. That night she had another attack, but over the next few weeks the frequency and severity of the episodes gradually diminished and in four weeks, they had vanished completely. After seven years of agonizing pain, I.M. has made a full recovery and is now living life pain free.
M.S. was unaware that from birth, she had a rare brain condition known as Chiari malformation, until she took a fall while skiing that triggered intermittent headaches and sensations of intense head pressure in the back of her head near her neck. The episodes, which were also characterized by dizziness, and feeling tired and “foggy”, lasted from two to five minutes. They happened without warning, with no predictable pattern or timing, and eventually were occurring daily. Most disturbing to M.S., at night she perceived a sense of burning in her head and was having intermittent numbness in her feet and hands.
Both M.S. and her primary care physician initially thought her symptoms could have been related to allergies but when they persisted, her doctor advised her to see a neurosurgeon. Dr. Scott Simon, whose office is at ONS at Tully Health Center, performed a thorough neuro-cognitive evaluation and ordered CT scans and MRIs which revealed that she had Chiari malformation.
Chiari malformation is a condition that occurs when the cerebellum is pushed down through the opening in the bottom of the skull, compressing the brain stem, diminishing the flow of spinal fluid in the skull. Chiari malformation occurs in one of 2,000 people; mostly women. For many, the condition may not be detected until after age 30. Characteristic symptoms are severe headaches that are often made worse by neck extension, neck pain, numbness and tingling in the hands and feet, a sense of pressure in the head and trouble with balance.
Dr. Simon recommended that M.S. undergo Chiari surgery in order to enlarge the opening at the back of the skull to decompress the brain. M.S. underwent surgery at Stamford Hospital on November 30, 2009. She stayed in the hospital for three days. It took two weeks until she was again steady on her feet, and during her recovery she was very sensitive to the touch on her head. She took it easy for the following month before returning to work but her headaches were gone. Now she has resumed her regular workout routine which includes jogging, fitness classes and weight training, and no longer worries about having a sudden attack.
D.L. was almost blind by the time she arrived at the office of neurosurgeon Dr. Scott Simon. Over the last 3 weeks she had been experiencing progressive loss of her vision that prompted her ophthalmologist to order an MRI of the brain. The scan revealed a large pituitary tumor compressing her optic nerves at the base of her brain. Dr. Simon admitted D.L. directly to Stamford Hospital and preformed a minimally invasive resection of the tumor, accessing the site completely through the nose. After surgery, D.L.'s vision completely returned and she continues to be tumor free without any side effects.
In Spring of 2007, fourteen-year-old J.L. of Dulles, VA was visiting her grandmother during spring vacation when she was struck by a car as she walked across the road near Greenwich High School. An ambulance took her to the Trauma Center at Stamford Hospital, where it was quickly determined that she had suffered a life-threatening head injury.
Neurosurgeon Scott Simon, MD of the Tully Health Center and Orthopaedic and Neurosurgery Specialists PC was called to the emergency room, and it was quickly determined that the impact from the accident caused an acute subdural hematoma and malignant brain swelling, leading to a herniation syndrome, where the brain is pushed into the brain stem and down through the skull. J.L. underwent an emergency hemicraniectomy, where Dr. Simon removed half of her skull as well as the hematoma. (She had the same brain surgery as Bob Woodruff.) Once her swelling subsided, the removed portion of her skull was reattached.
Back home in Virginia, J.L. is now in 11th grade. She loves to sing, draw and go shopping with friends. Thanks to the excellent care she has received at Stamford Hospital and the skills of Dr. Simon, J.L.'s life has returned to normal.