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When Steve Mores initially started experiencing numbness and aching on the left side of his face, he sought relief from his dentist for what he thought was a tooth ache. But in this case, the diagnosis you’d never expect, the scary thing, turned out to be his reality.

Steve was diagnosed with an Acoustic Neuroma, a brain tumor that arises from the nerve in the brain that controls hearing and balance.

His tumor continued to worsen over time, causing partial hearing loss, extreme nausea, and imbalance.  It was unresponsive to radiation, actually doubling in size during the course of radiation therapy, leaving surgery as the only option.

Dr. Orin Bloch, Steve’s neurosurgeon, knew there were risks, “This is definitely a challenging operation. It`s a big tumor in a deep location, very close to the brain stem and some of the main arteries that bring blood to the brain.”  Bloch says these surgeries often involve complicated decisions for surgeons about how much tumor to remove,”How much is too much? How much tumor if you take it out, outs you at risk for injuring a nerve and how much tumor if you leave it behind if you’re very, very conservative is too much to be treated safely with radiation?”

Making these decisions just got a bit easier, with a technology pioneered by the team at Northwestern Medicine and their partner Brain Lab.  Bloch explains Adaptive Hybrid Surgery like this, “This is a computer system with custom software that allows us during the operation to tell in real time how much tumor we’ve removed and how much is left behind.”

Steve was the second of seven patients to undergo Adaptive Hybrid Surgery, which recently received FDA approval.

Dr. Andrew Parsa, Chair of the Department of Neurological Surgery sees this as a game changer, “I think this technology makes all the difference in the world. This technology now allows us to really take on more challenging tumors in areas that we didn’t really go before and also it allows us to be more thoughtful about how aggressive we are.”

As for Steve, his symptoms are largely gone and he’s back to his passion: drumming in his band The Prairie Surfers.