For 16-year-old Baylor Cox, Monday nights were special. Playing on the offensive and defensive line for his high school junior varsity football team was something he looked forward to every week. This honor roll student also participated in the marching band, and was an all-around active and healthy teenager. But when he suddenly started to lose weight, had difficulty breathing through his nose, and began to lose his sense of taste, that all started to change.
At first, Baylor’s parents Angela and Barry thought it was the hot Oklahoma heat causing the weight loss. They also assumed Baylor’s breathing issues were caused by allergies. Luckily, Baylor caused his own visit to the hospital.
During a fundraising mission for the local children’s hospital, Baylor was out collecting money when he accidently fell and struck his face on the ground, causing a severe nosebleed that wouldn’t stop. Baylor’s mother rushed him the doctors, but an examination showed no signs of trauma to his nose. Eventually the bleeding was controlled and Baylor’s doctor referred him to an ear, nose and throat specialist. Almost immediately, the doctor diagnosed Baylor with an angiofibroma (a invasive, noncancerous tumor composed of blood vessels). The tumor was protruding into his nasal cavity, causing breathing difficulties and loss of the sense of smell. If it wasn’t removed, the tumor could push farther into the nasal cavity and skull base and cause severe damage and increased symptoms.
Neurosurgeons in Baylor’s hometown were apprehensive about removing the tumor due to its location and size, and could not ensure a successful surgery. Discouraged, Angela and Barry began doing their own research. They turned to the Internet and read about the Endoscopic Endonasal Approach (EEA) that was pioneered by UPMC surgeons. Feeling encouraged, they sent Baylor’s medical records overnight, and the next day got the call they were anticipating. “The doctor called and said, ‘We can treat your son,’ and explained all about the EEA procedure,” said Angela. “From then on, I knew we were going to the right place. The doctors were never more than an e-mail away.”
UPMC neurosurgeon Paul Gardner and otolaryngologist Carl Snyderman removed the apple-sized tumor through Baylor’s nose. The surgery left Baylor with no visible scars and little or no trauma to the nerves and tissue surrounding the area of the tumor. “We couldn’t have asked for a better team,” says Angela. “ All the nurses and doctors were amazing and the care and concern they showed for Baylor was incredible. I am truly amazed.”
Shorty after surgery, Baylor and his family returned home to Oklahoma. Although he opted not to return to football, Baylor was still happy to return to a normal life. “I was able to go back to school right way and do all the things I usually do,” says Baylor. “I couldn’t believe that almost a month ago I had brain surgery, and now I’m sitting here thinking about what to do tonight. That’s incredible.”
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.
Baylor's treatment and results may not be representative of all similar cases.