Awake Brain Surgery

Last August, Mitch Cross was a typical 17-year-old, gearing up for another football season at Bridgman High School. But after having a seizure, Mitch underwent an MRI that revealed a tumor in his brain.

Dr. Christian Sikorski of Lake Michigan Neurological Surgery advised Mitch and his parents, Wally and Annette, that surgery as soon as possible was the best option. Because the tumor was located close to the speech center of the brain, Dr. Sikorski explained that Mitch would be awake during parts of the surgery to make sure that his speech would not be affected by removing the tumor.

“Dr. Sikorski told us that Mitch could receive a second opinion in Chicago, but Mitch decided he would have his surgery here,” says Wally. “Looking back from a father’s perspective, Mitch was never scared and kept moving forward, even though it seemed like everything happened so fast.”

The day of the surgery, Dr. Thomas Mattice administered anesthesia to Mitch without a breathing tube. After Dr. Sikorski removed the skull bone over the tumor, Mitch was awakened and his brain was stimulated to see if his speech was disrupted as the tumor was removed.

“It was helpful because I was able to take out all of the tumor, being more aggressive in some spots and less aggressive in others, because when I stimulated his brain in certain areas, his speech would stop,” says Dr. Sikorski.

Mitch went home the day after the surgery and returned to school the next week. Follow-up MRIs showed no tumor regrowth, and Mitch has experienced no problems since his surgery. This fall, he plans to attend Siena Heights University, where he received a grant to run track.

“Right now, everything is back to normal,” says Mitch. “I caught up in school, am back to running, and feeling great.”

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