After the disastrous first appointment at home, we were ready to meet someone with experience. We had a lot of questions lined up for the skull base surgeons in the downstate Detroit area we would be visiting next.
While waiting for the first downstate appointment to start, Matt’s blood pressure was sky high. Immediate relief came when the surgeon walked in smiling and telling us not to worry. He said he looked at the MRI’s and feels the tumor is completely removable endoscopically or with a smaller open approach. He answered all of our questions so we finally had a good, professional understanding of what Matt had going on. We thought this surgeon would be a good option for the surgery but we knew we needed to get several opinions still. We asked for his recommendations and he kindly provided us a list of experienced skull base surgeons all over the world ranging from those who are experts in endoscopic skull base surgery to those who have leaned towards open approaches for decades.
The following appointment took us to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. They called us beforehand to schedule a CT scan for Matt which gave us confidence that they were looking closely at everything. Upon arriving at the University Hospital, Matt instantly liked the vibe and because we still had friends in school and residency there, he felt very comfortable. Adding to this comfort, Matt’s appointment was attended by the entire surgical team at once, all in one room. Clearly, they had it together and from that point, Matt decided he only wanted to have surgery if there was a team like this one involved. The team was confident that they could remove all of the tumor endoscopically so we finally felt pretty sure that we didn’t need to explore the open approach options further. Matt was ready to schedule surgery but he knew he should get a few more opinions before deciding so at the end of the appointment, we asked who they would recommend we seek out other opinons from, one name (Dr. Gardner at UPMC) came up that came up in our previous appointment so we were feeling like we were on the right track.
The last downstate appointment was with an extremely experienced skull base surgeon back in Detroit (the one the neurosurgeon at home had referred us to see). This surgeon confirmed everything the last two surgeons we had visited with had shared with us and made us feel even more confident that Matt’s tumor could be completely removed endoscopically. We were given the chance to meet the ENT he worked with and speak to a previous chordoma patient of his which added to Matt’s comfort with this surgeon.
We now felt like we had a great third option in our homestate but wanted to continue to gather opinions. Between our appointments, we had mailed several more copies of Matt’s MRI’s off to the new recommendations we recieved so our next step was to arrange phone consults to see if there were any other surgeons we should visit personally before making a decision.