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After two failed procedures at a separate health system, Melissia turned to the experts at Henry Ford.
For Melissia Snyder, everything changed one day 10 years ago.
At that time, she was a 29-year-old quality assurance representative, responsible for examining bolts that held aircraft engines and pickup truck bumpers in place. In her role, she relied heavily upon her vision.
“I noticed that checking the threads on the bolts was becoming more difficult, so I went to an eye doctor,” Melissia said. “The doctor noticed that my pupils weren’t dilating when they should be, and that was the start of my journey.”
After more diagnostic testing, it was determined that Melissia had tumors along both of her optic nerves. She underwent surgery to remove the tumors at a separate health system in Michigan. While most of the tumors along her optic nerves were removed, a few months later she developed additional problems.
“After the surgery, my vision worsened. I started to get migraines and eventually developed excess cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) around my brain.”
Excess CSF results in potentially harmful pressure on the tissues of the brain. To address this, a shunt was placed in her brain to drain excess CSF and relieve the pressure.
Melissia spent more than 18 months bedridden, and sometimes struggled to make her doctor appointments due to challenges with transportation. She eventually moved to Texas to stay with her sister, but her behavior began to change. During this period of her life, Melissia has very few memories.
During a doctor’s appointment in Texas, Melissia found out she had a tumor the size of a lemon in the frontal lobe of her brain, which had caused her behavioral changes. She had this tumor surgically removed in Texas, and moved back to Michigan shortly thereafter.
Just as her behavior was normalizing and her vision was improving, she developed a new significant health problem: a nasal CSF leak. The problem of excessive CSF around her brain had returned, but this time, CSF was leaking from her brain cavity and out her left nostril.
A nasal CSF leak meant there was a tear in the membrane surrounding her brain, and a hole at the base of her skull, creating a direct connection between her brain and the sinus and nasal cavities. This put Melissia at high-risk for serious conditions, such as pneumocephalus (air in the brain), meningitis, or a brain abscess.
She underwent two attempts at surgical repair of the CSF leak at a separate health system, but both surgeries were unsuccessful, and she continued to leak CSF from her nose.
That’s when Melissia sought out an evaluation by John Craig, M.D., division chief of Rhinology in the Department of Otolaryngology, and co-director of the Skull Base, Pituitary and Endoscopy Center at Henry Ford Health System.
“My experience with Dr. Craig was amazing,” Melissia said. “The recovery from my surgery was much quicker and easier than what I had experienced before being treated at Henry Ford. I felt safer and more comfortable with Dr. Craig. I knew it was going to work this time.”
Since her surgery with Dr. Craig, Melissia has been free of recurrent CSF leaks and continues to see him for follow up appointments.
“Melissia’s case was complex, and required a coordinated multidisciplinary team approach from various doctors through the Henry Ford Skull Base, Pituitary and Endoscopy Center,” Dr. Craig said. “All of our patients can expect world-class treatment at Henry Ford. Our surgical approaches and multidisciplinary postoperative treatment regimens for CSF leak repairs have resulted in excellent rates of success.”
Patients referred for conditions affecting the skull base are guaranteed to be evaluated by a neurosurgeon or otolaryngologist in the Henry Ford Skull Base, Pituitary and Endoscopy Center within 24 business hours of the consult being received.
The goal is to provide excellent care, while eliminating as much stress for the patient as possible by streamlining all communication between the doctors involved in the patient’s care, and the patient.
“Patients have enough to worry about, they don’t need to worry about all the details of making appointments with many different doctors,” said Dr. Craig. “When patients are being treated through the Henry Ford Skull Base, Pituitary and Endoscopy Center, they just have to make it to their scheduled appointments and surgery date. We take care of everything else.”