Heather McLeod lived most of her life as a “dizzy blonde.” The Thousand Oaks mother of 2 literally suffered frequent dizzy spells so severe that she often passed out, sometimes at the gym or at work — a source of great embarrassment for her. Doctors told the golden-haired 47-year-old that some people are simply more prone than others to such spells and to learn to live with the condition.
But as time passed, the number and severity of these incidents increased until, one day, she awoke to her room spinning so badly that she couldn’t find her bearings. Alarmed, her daughter drove her to an urgent care facility where a CT scan revealed a cherry-sized colloid cyst. She was immediately taken to the California Institute of Neuroscience (CIN) for treatment.
Brain surgeon Martin Mortazavi, M.D., founder and medical director of CIN, says that these relatively uncommon benign cysts form within the region of the brain called the ventricles.
“The cyst was situated on the brain’s third ventricle, one of four connected, fluid-filled cavities that help protect the brain from injury,” he explained. “Once they reach a critical size, they can block the normal flow of cerebrospinal fluid, thus increasing pressure within the brain. This can cause a number of problems…in Heather’s case, severe bouts of dizziness."
“Rather than go in endoscopically, I opted to perform an open craniotomy as the cyst was in such a precarious position, nearby critical veins that take blood from the brainstem,” said Mortazavi. “The surgery could not have gone smoother and today Heather is back to living her active life.”
In addition to raising her college-age son and a daughter in high school, she serves as community outreach director for Many Mansions, an organization that provides affordable housing to low-income residents in and around Ventura County.
“I thank God, the team at the California Institute of Neuroscience and Dr. Mortazavi, in particular, for giving me back my life, virtually free of the life-altering dizziness I have lived with for many, many years,” said McLeod. “And I have some advice for those who may be enduring a chronic condition like I did before my surgery…be your own advocate. Get to the heart of what is wrong with you and don’t just accept what your doctor says as the final word. In my case, ignoring the problem could have been deadly.”
The California Institute of Neuroscience has earned a stellar reputation in the prevention, diagnosis, surgical treatment and post-surgical aspects of a range of disorders affecting the brain, spinal cord, peripheral nerves and cerebrovascular system. The team, who are experts at treating aneurysms, AVM, skull base tumors such as pituitary tumors, acoustic neuromas, and meningiomas, trigeminal neuralgia, and any other medical condition related to the brain and spine, employ the safest and latest technology to give patients a new lease on life.
Among the areas of specialty: neurology, neurosurgery, psychology, psychiatry, cranial maxillofacial plastic surgery, spine/peripheral neurosurgery and neuro-ophthalmology. These comprehensive services offer the patient a holistic approach to care not commonly found in typical neurosurgical practices. Visit cineuro.org or call (805) 795-7656.