February 20, 2014 | 702 views
Despite health scare, local athlete wants to help others
Two years after having a tumor removed from his brain, Nicholas Polo is doing well.
When Nicholas Polo was working out with his father in June of 2012, he began to experience severe head and neck pains and knew something was wrong.
Polo, now 16, experienced symptoms of double vision and throwing up, all while trying to prepare for his freshman year at St. Anthony’s High School. Initially, Polo thought the problems originated from a bulging disk, so he went to physical therapy. That provided temporary relief, but the same issues returned.
His parents took him to Vijaya Atluru, M.D., who ordered an MRI. The doctor discovered that Polo had a tumor in his pineal gland, a small endocrine gland in the center of the brain, and suspected Hydrocephalus. Hydrocephalus, a dangerous accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain, can be caused by the presence of a brain tumor.
Dr. Atluru referred Polo to John A. Grant, M.D., F.A.C.S., attending pediatric neurosurgeon with Neurological Surgery at Winthrop
To address the Hydrocephalus, Dr. Grant performed a procedure called third ventriculostomy, which uses a small camera with fiber optic technology to view the surface of the ventricle (space) inside the brain, where the fluid accumulates. A small tool attached to the same device makes a tiny hole in the floor of the third ventricle, which releases the built-up fluid.
Dr. Grant also extracted some of this fluid and tested it for tumor markers to rule out a germinoma, which can only be treated with chemotherapy and radiotherapy, and not surgery. The test determined that Polo did not have a germinoma. Based on these results, surgery was the appropriate treatment option. The next task was to remove the tumor.
The exact type of tumor could only be determined through a biopsy, performed after its removal, which showed that it was a mixed pineal tumor, with a combination of benign and malignant cells.
“This is a very complex surgery, as the tumor is located in the center of the brain,” Dr. Grant said.
“I had to go for radiation and eight months of chemotherapy,” Polo said.
He now gets regular MRIs to ensure that everything is okay.
“Nicholas is a real fighter,” Dr. Grant. “He bounced back rapidly.”