It’s a rare occasion when a radiologist receives a
thank you card from a grateful patient. Now imagine
getting a hand-drawn card from a 3-year-old child
exclaiming, “You Rock!” Upon hearing the
heartwarming story of little Raymond K. and
the diagnosis and removal of his tumor, R&E
Foundation staff asked John R. Hesselink,
M.D. to share his experience with fellow
The Autism Center of Excellence
(ACE) at University of California San
Diego is dedicated to discovering the
causes of autism and paving the
way for more effective autism
treatment. A local family volunteered
their 1- and 3- year-old
children to participate in
autism research. As neuroradiologist
for the center,
I review all the MR scans
done on the children to look
for structural abnormalities and to detect
any incidental lesions that might be of clinical
significance. Upon reviewing the MRI of
the 3-year-old child, I noticed a 1 cm lesion
on the superior vermis of the cerebellum.
I gave the differential of a mixed neuronalglial
lesion or a low-grade astrocytoma,
and I recommended a clinical MR scan and
consultation with a neurosurgeon. The lesion
Raymond is now perfectly healthy thanks to his
parents’ decision to participate in a research trial for
autism and the talented eyes of John R. Hesselink, M.D.
was removed and pathology revealed
a pilocytic astrocytoma.
The child is neurologically
normal and likely will require no
further treatment. Although low-grade malignancies,
by the time of presentation these
tumors are often large and infiltrate normal
cerebellum, making complete resection difficult
Two months later, I
received a call from the ACE
center informing me that they had received
a card and some pictures for me from the
Dr. Hesselink is a professor of radiology
and neuroscience, Chief of Neuroradiology, and
Vice Chair of Radiology at University of California
San Diego. He has authored more than 150
peer-reviewed publications, 27 chapters, and 2
books, and has been co-investigator on more
than 35 NIH grants.
If you have a patient story that you would
like to share, please contact Debborah Harp,
Assistant Director, Fund Developement at 630-590-7773
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