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Hinsdale doctor publishes article on tumor treatment
Hinsdale – A prominent Adventist Hinsdale Hospital physician has published an article in a medical journal spotlighting the advances being made in the treatment of benign tumors of the base of the skull. The article was authored by Dr. Robert A. Battista, an otolaryngologist who specializes in issues of neurotology. It was published in the August 2009 edition of Otolaryngologic Clinics of North America; Battista also served as guest editor of the issue.

Only those physicians who are recognized by their peers as leaders in their field are selected to write and edit articles in this prestigious monthly medical journal. The periodical features articles on the latest trends in patient management and the newest advances in otolaryngology, a branch of medicine that specializes in the treatment of the ear, nose, throat and related structures of the head and neck.

Otolaryngology is the oldest medical specialty in the United States. Patients with benign tumors at the base of the skull usually experience hearing loss, dizziness, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), facial numbness, facial paralysis, or difficulty swallowing are most often referred to an otolaryngologist. A common cause of these symptoms are the benign tumors called schwannomas that Battista addresses in his article, “Gamma Knife Radiosurgery for Vestibular Schwannoma.”

“Over the last two decades, radiosurgery and radiotherapy have been used with increasing frequency to treat benign tumors of the skull base,” noted Battista. “While traditional microsurgery remains the main treatment for skull-base tumors, … predictions are that in the near future, a greater percentage of vestibular schwannomas will be treated with radiosurgery than by traditional surgery.”

In the article, Battista traced the improved treatment options for schwannomas to 1951 when Dr. Lars Leksell conceived of what is now known as gamma knife radiosurgery (GKRS). The Leksell Gamma Knife used intersecting beams of gamma radiation to treat lesions in the brain. The treatment was groundbreaking in the way it was able to target a high dose of radiation at the lesion while sparing the adjacent healthy brain tissue.

In 1969, Leksell first used the gamma knife to treat a patient with a vestibular schwannoma. U.S. physicians began using it 18 years later at the University of Pittsburgh and its use has grown considerably to include 50 gamma knife centers in the U.S. today. Surveys estimate that more than 28,000 patients worldwide with vestibular schwannoma have been treated with the gamma knife.

“It seems that there is a steady, growing demand for GKRS as treatment for vestibular schwannomas,” Battista wrote. “This may be due, in part, to improved patient outcomes and an expanding body of knowledge of long-term tumor control. Prior to 1992, high (radiation) doses resulted in significant rates of facial weakness and facial numbness after GKRS. Since then, dose reduction (of radiation), the introduction of MRI scans, and more sophisticated dose planning software and equipment have improved outcomes considerably.”

The article is available by request from the Adventist Midwest Health public relations department.

Battista treats patients at the Center for Hearing Restoration and Ear Research at Adventist Hinsdale Hospital, which offers patients and their families a comprehensive range of diagnostic services and surgical treatment for ear and hearing problems, as well as educational opportunities to the medical community. For more information, please call the physician’s referral service of Adventist Hinsdale Hospital at (630) 856-7500.