Surgery solves mystery headaches

June 7, 2010 3:09:00 PM PDT
Sometimes brain malformations, that are usually detected in childhood, do not cause symptoms until adulthood. In some cases, the symptom can be severe mystery headaches. Surgery can be used to relieve these headaches.

Danielle Foster had mysterious symptoms. Describing her symptoms, she said, "I lay in bed all day long. I'm always tired. I'm always in pain."

Carolyn Conley alsy has mysterious symptoms. "It's like you're in a fog. It's like you can't even think," she said.

Karen Wetherby had similar symptoms. She said, "Basically, a migraine for four months." She continued, "I was basically at the point like find something or shoot me."

All three women had the same problem. They suffered from a chiari (key-are-eee) malformation, a defect in the base of the skull. It happens when there's not enough space in the skull for the Cerebellum and brainstem, which creates too much pressure.

According to Doctor Michael Seiff, a Neurosurgeon from Sunrise Hospital in Las Vegas, "A lot of times, they're [women] told it's in their heads."

Dr. Seiff relieves the problem in a single surgery. He needs to, make the hole at the bottom of the skull bigger, just remove a lip of bone.

Foster, a mother of two, was hoping for a new life after surgery. She said, "I've got an 8-year-old that's never had a real mom."

To help Foster, Dr. Seiff drilled into her head and removed bone at the base of the skull to create more space. The same surgery helped Wetherby and Conley. They found that their headaches and numbness were gone after the surgery and that their fatigue and joint pain are disappearing.

After surgery, Foster said "I absolutely feel like a new person." She is now the mother she always wanted to be.