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Date: 23 September 2020

Time: 21:02

Carole Markham with Consultant Skull Base Surgeon Mr Shahz Ahmed and Skull Base Fellow, Paresh Naik

Patient regains sight after tumour removal

Story posted/last updated: 24 August 2020

A grateful patient from Worcester is slowly recovering after innovative surgery at Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham to remove a pituitary tumour which had left her with no sight in one eye and greatly reduced the vision in her other.

Carole Markham, 73, has two children and is the sole carer for her husband, Tony, who had a stroke five years ago. Despite the neurological issues that Tony has been left with, the couple were determined not to let that affect them, and still go on their yearly winter holiday.

It was when they were on holiday in Tenerife last year that Carole started to notice that her sight in her left eye was deteriorating. When they got home, Carole went to a clinic in Gloucester where tests showed a tumour on her pituitary gland, which was pressing on her optic nerve and led to a loss of the sight in her left eye. Carole was referred urgently to the Pituitary Service run by Dr Niki Karavitaki and Dr John Ayuk at Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham.

Carole was seen by Pituitary Neuroophthalmologist, Miss Ruchika Batra, five days later, and given an appointment to see the Joint Pituitary Team within ten days, to agree a care pathway, and placed on an urgent theatre list for surgery. However after only a few days of being seen in Birmingham, Carole became concerned when the vision in her right eye began to deteriorate rapidly. She called the team, who urged her to come in where she was admitted as an emergency. The tumour, which measured 2.6cm, was pressing on both of her optic nerves. The team, led by Consultant Skull Base Surgeon Mr Shahz Ahmed, decided to operate straightaway on 20 July.

Assisted by Paresh Naik, Skull Base Fellow, the three hour emergency operation saw the team remove the whole tumour via Carole’s nose with no external scars and without complication.

Carole spent three days in hospital before returning home where her recovery continues.

She said: "Losing my sight was scary. I am very independent and being reliant on other people for such simple tasks as reading letters, was difficult. My sight is slowly starting to return and Mr Ahmed and his team are confident that I will regain the majority that I lost.

"I am still feeling the effects of my surgery and I get tired very easily. For the first two weeks I constantly felt like I needed to blow my nose, which I couldn’t do as my nasal passages were recovering from the surgery. I have to do nasal washes two or three times a day and I haven’t had a sense of smell since the operation.

"I am really grateful to Mr Ahmed and his team for their care, they are fantastic and I have been looked after so well. I have had a lot of support from friends and family too, I couldn’t have done this without them. I am looking forward to being able to drive again, and my granddaughter is expecting her first child and my first great grandchild this month, which I am really excited about."

Mr Shahz Ahmed said: "Good surgical results need careful planning and most of all great teamwork. Our Pituitary Team of endocrinologists, surgeons, neuro-ophthalmologists, oncologists, neuroradiologists, neuropathologists, associate specialists, fellows and specialist nurses are all passionate about delivering a world class pituitary service. Carole has made a remarkable recovery, from being virtually blind to now having sight, so that she can continue caring for her husband. We are confident that her vision will improve further to allow her to get back to driving and regain her full independence."

If you would like to help more patients like Carole, a link to to our Pituitary Tumour Appeal is available below.

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