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William Byrd: Colloid Cyst

William stands with his family and his doctor. He wears a gray shirt and a baseball cap. His wife wears an orange sweatshirt, and their son wears a gray hoodie. The doctor is wearing a suit.

The Challenge

William Byrd, III, had been suffering from memory loss, vision disturbances, and debilitating headaches for more than a decade. The Kingwood, West Virginia resident knew something was wrong, but was reluctant to go to the doctor. However, frequent fainting spells, in addition to intensified headaches, finally spurred him to seek medical help.

"I'm grateful that I live in this part of the country where I could be sent to a neurosurgery center that is top rated." — William

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The Path to UPMC

An Air Force veteran of Desert Storm, William went to the local Veterans Affairs hospital in Clarksburg, WV, where an MRI of the head revealed a golf-ball-sized colloid cyst deep inside the natural fluid spaces (ventricles) of his brain. The cyst had disrupted normal flow of fluid through his brain, causing high pressure in his head. Although colloid cysts are not cancerous, William's condition was life threatening. He was immediately referred to a UPMC neurosurgeon about 100 miles away.

The Solution

Because of the seriousness of William's condition, the surgeon wanted to remove the cyst right away. As a husband and father of two young children, William was apprehensive about undergoing surgery so unexpectedly. He said he wanted to "make sure my affairs were all in order" before committing to surgery.

With a cyst located deep within the ventricle, William was a candidate for minimally invasive Neuroendoport® Surgery at UPMC. The cyst was completely removed through the dime-sized port in a four-hour operation. After surgery, William had little pain, and remained in the hospital for just two days.

William says he's amazed that the cyst was removed by such an innovative method, leaving just a small scar on his head.

"I'm grateful that I live in this part of the country where I could be sent to a neurosurgery center that is top rated. And, I'm grateful that my doctor was skilled enough to find what he found as soon as he did…and take care of it."

The Results

Nearly a month after his surgery, William's headaches and fainting spells are gone. While he still has some problems with memory and concentration, it's not nearly as bad as before the surgery. William hopes to see more improvements over the coming year. He commends his physicians and the Neurosurgery staff on their level of professionalism.

"Nurses and staff on the floor were just wonderful. UPMC is a fine institution. They have fine people working there," says William.

Our patient stories profile a number of patients who have had minimally invasive brain surgery at UPMC. Although everyone's care experience is unique, we hope that sharing these stories will help other prospective patients and their families better understand these procedures and their potential benefits.

William's treatment and results may not be representative of all similar cases.

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