Kelly Stafford, wife of Lions QB, to have slow-growing brain tumor removed

Nerve injury is biggest concern

By Frank McGeorge, MD - Medical Expert, Amber Ainsworth

DETROIT - Kelly Stafford, the wife of Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, announced Wednesday that she is having surgery to remove a brain tumor.

READ: Kelly Stafford's post about brain surgery

Kelly Stafford was diagnosed with acoustic neuroma, a slow-growing tumor on the main nerve leading from the inner ear to the brain. The tumor develops in an area that is responsible for vital functions and is packed tight with nerves.

“The most common symptom is tinnitus or a ringing in the ear, followed probably by hearing loss,” said Dr. Jack Rock, a neurosurgeon for Henry Ford Hospital. “The symptom that doesn’t happen over time slowly is vertigo.”

Vertigo was the symptom that alerted Kelly Stafford that there was a problem.

“It’s not a rare lesion, but it’s not common. It's benign and it, in 95 percent of the cases, really mostly in the young people, you can live a completely normal life after surgery,” Rock said.

Rock noted the biggest challenge with removing the tumor is making sure the nerve that controls facial movements isn’t damaged.

“It’s challenging to take the tumor off without injuring the nerve. Experienced surgeons can do this fairly reliably, very reliably, but it's something that takes technical skill to do,” he said.

Here is a statement from the Detroit Lions:

"The Detroit Lions fully support Kelly, Matthew and the entire Stafford family during this difficult time. Over the years, their selfless commitment to helping others and improving the communities in which we live and work has made a lasting impact on the lives of so many. We thank everyonen for the outpouring of support.

"On behalf of the Stafford family, we ask that everyone respect the privacy of the situation at this time."

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