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Expertise, Technology Save Father with Brain Tumor

One day at work, Paul Beatty overheated and passed out.

brain tumor location at base of hypothalamus
The location of Paul Beatty's brain tumor made the surgery among the more difficult of brain surgeries.

His physician suspected simple dehydration, but the first series of tests showed no problems. Something was wrong, however, because Beatty also had stopped sweating. More tests were ordered, and an MRI finally revealed the culprit: a benign tumor deep within his brain.

The tumor was growing at the base of his hypothalamus, the link between the nervous system and the endocrine system that controls automatic processes such as body temperature.

That's when the Snowflake husband and father came to John C. Lincoln North Mountain Hospital in Phoenix.

The location of the tumor, three inches behind his left eye on the edge of the tough membrane that covers the brain, made his surgery among the most difficult of brain surgeries, said neurosurgeon Igor Yusupov, MD.

Igor Yusupov, MD, a neurosurgeon at John C. Lincoln North Mountain Hospital
Igor Yusupov, MD, neurosurgeon at John C. Lincoln North Mountain Hospital.

A sophisticated computer mapping system allowed Dr. Yusupov to precisely locate Beatty's tumor. Reflective light is picked up by a camera and registers three-dimensional images correlating with markers glued to the patient's scalp.

In the 7-and-a-half-hour surgery, Sonostar ultrasound technology first broke down the tumor and then Dr. Yusopov used a surgical microscope to remove the tissue through Beatty's forehead and frontal sinus cavity. A traditional approach could have caused significant brain injury and months of recovery with less hope of returning to his normal life.

Brain tumor survivor Paul Beatty with wife Lynnette
Paul and Lynnette Beatty at their son's wedding.

"Brain tissue doesn't react well when it is disturbed. That's why I didn't want to take a standard route to the tumor. We would have had to disturb too much of the brain tissue and there could have been adverse effects," Dr. Yusupov said.

Additionally, Beatty knew the possible outcomes of any brain surgery: personality changes and paralysis, to name a few. But, without removal, the tumor would continue to grow and increase pressure in his brain, causing blindness, personality changes and neurological dysfunction.

He and his wife have 12 children ranging from 5 to 25 years old, so the decision was easy. And Dr. Yusupov's compassion, combined with technology, gave him assurance about the outcome.

"It was a shock at first, and it was kind of scary," said Beatty, 50, an animal control officer. "But from the moment we met Dr. Yusupov, he was very straightforward and he had confidence that made me have confidence in him. I can't say enough good things about him and the staff that took care of me at the hospital. Everything was just wonderful. They were very attentive to everything I was going through."

North Mountain Hospital Neuro Critical Care Services

John C. Lincoln North Mountain Hospital also is the only hospital in Arizona with Neuro Critical Care Services supervised by a physician who is a certified neuro-intensivist by the United Council for Neurological Subspecialties.

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Such certification requires additional training and is associated with improved neuro patient outcomes and a shorter length of hospital stay. Victor Zach, MD, works exclusively with John C. Lincoln North Mountain Hospital neuro patients in ICU — including Beatty — for close monitoring.

On the second day after surgery, Beatty walked himself from his ICU room to his surgical patient room. On the third day after surgery, Beatty went home.

About six weeks after his surgery, Beatty continues taking it easy. Recovering from brain surgery, Dr. Yusupov said, is like recovering from being hit by a truck. The fatigue can linger for three to six months.

Beatty tires easily and misses seeing his children's sports activities and school concerts. But he's looking forward to returning to work, his family's church commitments and all the children's activities.

"I feel like myself," he said. "I'm tired, but everybody says that I've been doing so well. It's amazing for me to come out of this with no major complications at all, no personality change."

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