Jordan Pone was 5 when he abruptly lost the ability to hear. As doctors searched for the cause of his hearing loss, they came across unusual lesions in his brain.
The lesions were not cancerous, but they were serious. At the time, doctors advised keeping close watch on the lesions and any symptoms they might cause, such as seizures or headaches. This was almost 10 years ago, and surgery on the lesions would have meant open brain surgery for Jordan.
Today, Jordan is 15. He wears hearing aids, rides cyclo-cross and “with regard to this, shows a great maturity that is just amazing,” said his father, Daniel Pone. The hearing loss is not related to the lesions, which doctors continue to monitor.
When one of the lesions began growing and bleeding in late 2013, the Pones explored treatment options. They found pediatric neurosurgeon Zulma Tovar-Spinoza, MD, at Upstate. She told them they could continue monitoring the lesions, perform open surgery to remove them, or use a new focused laser technology to ablate and reduce their size.
Daniel and Simmone Pone of Constantia liked the laser option for their son; he had not suffered seizures or headaches, and they wanted to make sure he would not.
Doctors had never before treated a pediatric patient with lesions like Jordan’s using laser ablation, Tovar-Spinoza explained. She performed the first operation in February 2014, targeting the largest lesion. In another operation in November, she focused lasers on two other lesions that were showing signs of bleeds. That surgery took place in Upstate’s new surgical suite that provides direct access to a magnetic resonance imaging machine, so scans can be taken during surgery.
Pone said his son recovered quickly. After both surgeries, Jordan was back home the next day. He has been able to return to the sports he loves: bicycle racing and cyclo-cross. And, follow-up exams show that the lesions are shrinking.
Steps of Jordan’s operation
- He is placed under anesthesia in the operating room.
- A frame is positioned around his head.
- He is moved into the MRI machine for imaging.
- He returns to the operating room, where the frame is fixed to a clamp.
- Dr. Zulma Tovar-Spinoza introduces lasers into his brain through tiny incisions.
- The patient is moved to the MRI machine.
- New images show that lasers are in the planned position.
- The lesions are ablated, or destroyed, while live images from the MRI machine are visible.
- After a final post-ablation scan, he is moved back to the operating room.
- The lasers are removed, and the small incisions are closed with a single stitch.
Hear an interview with Zulma Tovar-Spinoza, MD, and Lawrence Chin, MD, about the surgical suite where Justin had his operation. The interview was part of HealthLink on Air, on WRVO.
This article appears in the spring 2015 issue of Upstate Health magazine.