WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- Doctors in Ireland were shocked to discover that an 84-year-old patient’s brain is missing its right frontal lobe.
- The man was sent to the emergency room, fearing a possible stroke, after several months of alarming symptoms which include unsteady walking, recurrent falls, and weakness on his left side limbs.
- After performing a head CT and MRI scans, doctors found a large, empty void, called pneumocephalus, which measured 3.5 inches at its longest point.
According to a report published in BMJ Case Reports, the unidentified man didn’t smoke, hardly drank alcohol, and has been relatively healthy all his life.
“There was no confusion, facial weakness, visual or speech disturbance. He was otherwise fit and well, independent with physical activities of daily living … and lived at home with his wife and two sons,” the doctors reported.
But after a head CT and MRI scans were performed, the man had only a large, empty void, called pneumocephalus, where the right frontal lobe of his brain should have been. It’s a medical condition when a pocket of pressurized air forms within the cranium. This usually happens after brain surgery but in the man’s case, the air pocket measured 3.5 inches at its longest point.
“In my research for writing the case report I wasn’t able to find very many documented cases of a similar nature to this one,” Finlay Brown, one of the physicians, told the Washington Post.
Apparently, a benign bone tumor in the patient’s sinuses, called osteoma, caused the pneumocephalus.
Brown added: “From speaking to the specialists, it seems it has been progressing insidiously over months to years. When the patient sniffed/sneezed/coughed, he would most likely be pushing small amounts of air into his head.”
The man is experiencing left-sided weakness due to a mild stroke, which is a “rare” side effect of pneumocephalus. The man underwent two surgeries — to decompress the air pocket and to remove the tumor.
Dr. Brown and his co-authors emphasized in their report that people who experience similar symptoms should be checked as well.
“Because every now and then there will be a rare (or) unknown causation of these that could be overlooked,” Brown told LiveScience.
Source: NY Daily News