Bay Shore, NY – Quilvio Cruceta had never suffered from symptoms of a brain tumor -- until several months ago when he started to have balance issues and frequent headaches, followed by sudden pain above his right eye.
The 61-year-old Brentwood man went to his primary care physician and was soon referred him to a neurologist. Magnetic resonance imaging tests revealed a large mass called a posterior fossa epidermoid tumor, a rare brain tumor that accounts for approximately one percent of all brain tumors. Mr. Cruceta may have had it growing inside his brain since birth.
“This type of brain tumor is extremely rare,” said Justin Thomas, MD, an attending neurosurgeon at Southside Hospital, a member of Northwell Health, who performed the surgery on Jan. 13. “It was located near the bottom part of the skull, near the brainstem and the cerebellum. The cerebellum controls movement and balance, and the brainstem controls vital body functions such as breathing. This explains why Mr. Cruceta was experiencing some of the symptoms he had in recent months.”
Prior to surgical resection of the tumor, Dr. Thomas had to place an external ventricular drain so he could have access to the brain’s normal fluid spaces. This was followed by a five-hour surgery to resect the entire golf ball-sized lesion. In order to remove the tumor, Dr. Thomas opened the back of the skull, removed part of the first vertebral bone of the neck, unsealed the covering of the brain and removed the tumor from the critical surrounding structures including the brainstem and the cerebellum.
A week later, Mr. Cruceta was discharged from the hospital, without any neurological deficit. He has not experienced any balance or headache issues since his surgery.
He looks forward to returning to work in April. He has been a New York City parking attendant for 39 years.
“Dr. Thomas is an amazing doctor, and he saved my life,” said Mr. Cruceta.
About Northwell Health
Northwell Health (formerly North Shore-LIJ Health System) is New York State’s largest health care provider and private employer. With 21 hospitals and nearly 450 outpatient practices, we serve more than 1.8 million people annually in the metro New York area and beyond. Our 61,000 employees work to change health care for the better. We’re making breakthroughs in medicine at the Feinstein Institute. We're training the next generation of medical professionals at the visionary Hofstra Northwell School of Medicine and the School of Graduate Nursing and Physician Assistant Studies. And we offer health insurance through CareConnect. For information on our services in more than 100 medical specialties, visit Northwell.edu.