WSVN -- A year ago, Erin Kelley felt like her body was out of control.
Erin Kelley: "I gained 120 pounds. Went from being an extremely athletic person to not being able to do much at all without getting really sick."
She was diagnosed with Cushing's syndrome. A tumor on her pituitary gland was throwing off her body's hormonal balance.
Erin Kelley: "It took me from being one person to being a completely different person."
Up until now, removing pituitary tumors meant making an incision underneath the lip and going through the nasal cavity to reach the tumor.
Dr. Richard Chole: "It took many changes to get the curvature and the shape of this right."
Doctor Richard Chole invented a new instrument that allows him to do the same surgery with a less-invasive approach through the nose.
Dr. Richard Chole: "It allows us to do it safely through the nose without any incisions."
The blades of his tool expand the sinuses exposing the pituitary tumor and clearing a path for it to be pulled out through the nose.
The device eliminates the need for incisions and avoids any possible nerve damage in the mouth, and there's no swelling or eating problems afterwards.
Dr. Richard Chole: "This way is more direct. The exposure is just different, and it's proving to be a very successful way of doing it."
Erin Kelley: "I am 900 percent better than I was before."
Less than six months after surgery Erin's feeling more like herself every day and has dropped nearly half of her weight.
Now that her tumor's history she's taking her life back one lap at a time.
Richard Lemus: "Doctors say people who are obese and have type two diabetes and high blood pressure have an increased risk of developing Cushing's syndrome."
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Judy MartinPublic AffairsWashington University School of Medicine, St. LouisTel: (314) 286-0105