'Brain GPS' helps Abu Dhabi surgeons to cut huge tumour from man's head

The growth was the size of a billiard ball and caused Mohanad Emaara problems for a decade

A scan of the tumour that was removed from Mohanad Emaara's brain 
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Surgeons have used "brain GPS" to remove a tumour the size of a billiard ball from a patient’s head, ending his decade-long search for a headache cure.

Mohanad Emaara, 34, a banker, had been suffering from symptoms that also included chills, dizziness, arm weakness, blurred vision and a loss of speech since his mid-20s.

Despite visiting eight hospitals in 10 years, he received a string of incorrect diagnoses and useless treatments.

It was only when he booked himself in for an MRI scan that the giant tumour, which had developed its own blood supply, was discovered.

Mohamed Elhammady, a neurosurgeon at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, removed the growth in a gruelling eight-hour operation.

I wouldn't be able to see, speak or hear anything for a few seconds or even minutes. It made my life very difficult

The tumour was at the base of the skull and pushing into the brain, which made the operation complicated.

But it was carried out successfully with the help of "neuro-navigation", a technique that provides detailed 3D scans to help guide surgeons.

“For one week a month I would have headaches five or six times a day,” said Mr Emaara, a Palestinian father of three who was born and raised in the UAE.

"I wouldn’t be able to see, speak or hear anything for a few seconds or even minutes. It made my life very difficult.

"The headaches meant I didn’t want to be around my wife or children and I was even afraid to use my car because I was worried my sight or strength in my arms would go while driving.

“Now, I feel like a new person. I really feel like I can do anything now that I don’t need to worry about losing my sight or my strength.

"I can be there for my family and look forward to the future.”

The operation was carried out in March, with details now being made public after Mr Emaara's successful recovery.

Mohanad Emaara is now looking forward to a happier life with his wife and children

He has not since experienced the pain that he once believed he would live with for the rest of his life.

Me Emaara said that none of the doctors he had seen over the years had recommended an MRI scan, which he booked after family and friends suggested it.

The tumour found was one of the largest ever seen by the team at the Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi’s neurological institute.

“It had been growing for so long that it had developed a better blood supply than the rest of the brain,” Dr Elhammady said.

“It had caused significant swelling that had pushed the brain almost a centimetre off centre.

"Left untreated it would have kept growing and Mohanad’s symptoms would have become significantly worse.”

"Neuro-navigation is like a GPS for surgery. We can overlay a 3D scan of the patient’s brain so that we always know exactly where we are during the operation, helping us to avoid any damage to healthy tissue and ensuring that patients don’t suffer any adverse effects as a result of the surgery.

“Coupled with intra-operative nerve monitoring systems to observe brain function in real time, it makes brain surgery significantly safer for patients.”