• By Dana Sparks

Sharing Mayo Clinic: Marching to the beat of his own drum after brain surgery

May 26, 2019

When Tanner Effinger arrived at Mayo Clinic in April 2018 following nearly a year of increasingly severe symptoms, including weight loss, anemia, extreme fatigue and headaches, the college sophomore had no idea he would undergo brain surgery four days later.

But after Tanner saw physicians at Mayo Clinic's Rochester campus in the departments of GastroenterologyHematologyNeurologyOncology  and Rheumatology, he was diagnosed with a tumor in the right frontal lobe of his brain. The diagnosis led to surgery to remove the tumor that eliminated his symptoms and turned his life around.

Terence Burns, M.D., Ph.D., Tanner's neurosurgeon, attributes much of Tanner's swift, successful outcome to the way Mayo Clinic works.

"That Tanner arrived with fatigue, anemia and suspected celiac disease, was evaluated by specialists from half a dozen disciplines all working together to solve a puzzle, and then was back home cured after brain surgery within a week is a reflection of Mayo's teamwork and efficiency," Dr. Burns says. "It's one of the special things about Mayo that empowers us to take the best possible care of truly unique patients like Tanner."

Strange symptoms

Tanner's symptoms began during summer 2017 after his freshman year at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, where he was a mechanical engineering major. After returning from a trip to Walt Disney World with the university's marching band, he lost 15 pounds in just one week. As the summer progressed, he frequently felt extremely fatigued.

The 19-year-old percussionist went to his primary care doctor for a full workup and learned he had severe anemia. A referral to a gastroenterologist who performed an endoscopy led to a diagnosis of celiac disease. The doctor also told Tanner that test results showed his inflammatory markers were high, but the reason for that result wasn't clear. Read the rest of Tanner's story.
This article originally appeared on the Sharing Mayo Clinic blog.