In late April, he started to get nosebleeds that were anything but harmless."Well, at first, it was kind of surprising," the Old Brookville, L.I. teenager said, because he hardly ever had nosebleeds. He described them as feeling like "someone was shooting a Super Soaker out of my nose with blood. I thought I was going to die."Brandon said they started to progress and would even occur in the middle of the school day, causing him to become embarrassed. "Some (classmates) thought I was picking my nose," he said.But the nosebleeds were the symptom of a relatively rare vascular tumor the size of a golf ball in the back of his nose. Doctors do not understand why the growth forms, but they do know that it occurs almost exclusively in adolescent males and represents 0.5 percent of all types of tumors in the head and neck, according to Brandon's surgeon, Dr. Mark Shikowitz, the associate chairman of the Ear, Nose and Throat Department of Long Island Jewish Medical Center. If left untreated, the tumor can cause blindness, he said."It was very, very scary," said Brandon's mother, Adelina. She said the night of Brandon's first nosebleed, blood was on the walls, floors and all over her house. "Like a faucet," she said, describing the amount of blood that was pouring out."It's just a huge bunch of blood vessels," Shikowitz said of the tumor in explaining why the nosebleeds were so severe.The condition is often misdiagnosed because the growth is found in the back of the nose and because those with the tumor do not view the nosebleeds as something serious, he said. Over time, surrounding bones under the brain and eye can erode, causing facial deformities.Before Brandon's operation at Schneiders Children's Hospital in New Hyde Park in June, surgeons would remove that type of tumor by making a large incision from the corner of the eye to the side of the nose and flip the nose over or make a cut by the lip and pull the face up. But because of the incisions, those methods would leave scarring.Shikowitz, however, used an endoscope - a device with a camera attached to the end so surgeons can see the affected area without having to open up the body - when he operated on Brandon. It was the first time that method was used to remove a tumor of Brandon's type and size at Schneider's and it left no scarring because there was no cutting to the side of the face."Technology has caught up to this ailment," Shikowitz said, noting that the 7-1/2-hour surgery is done millimeter by millimeter.In the two months leading up to the operation, Brandon said he had to sit in his house and had to refrain from participating in gym class."First I was worried I would be like this for the rest of my life," he said. "Now I'm back to normal."Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at news@times
©2006 Community News Group
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