Dallas Mavericks' Pavel Podkolzin Undergoes Brain Surgery for Pituitary Tumor
First Round NBA Pick Receives State of the Art Procedure for Tumor from World-Renown Skull Base Institute in Los Angeles; Full Recovery Expected
Los Angeles, CA (November 29th, 2004) -- Pavel Podkolzin, the 19 year old, 260 pound, seven-foot-five, native Russian center on the Dallas Maverick's roster selected as a first round pick during the 2004 NBA draft, underwent endoscopic pituitary brain surgery over the Thanksgiving weekend at The Skull Base Institute in Los Angeles to remove a life-threatening tumor from his pituitary gland.
"Mr. Podkolzin's procedure went without complications. The tumor has been removed while preserving the pituitary gland," stated Dr. Hrayr Shahinian, the Director of The Skull Base Institute.
Dr. Shahinian personally performed the endoscopic pituitary surgery and has earned worldwide acclaim for developing the complicated procedure with minimal risk factors and a greatly reduced recovery time over more traditional approaches to brain surgery. Using microsurgical tools and fiber optics, Dr. Shahinian entered Podkolzin's cranial cavity through his nasal passages to remove the tumor on his pituitary gland, bypassing the need to break the skull open or make a facial incision.
"I am grateful that the Skull Base Institute was able to perform this operation," said Podkolzin. "It has been my dream to come to the United States and play in the NBA. This medical problem could have slowed or even halted my basketball career, but now I will be ready to play with almost no lost time."
Podkolzin had been diagnosed with a growth hormone secreting pituitary tumor last year while playing basketball in Italy's top professional basketball league. At a young age, this often leads to Gigantism as the body experiences unchecked growth. If left untreated, this can result in diffuse and severe joint problems, numerous colon polyps with a high incidence of colon cancer and most commonly death from heart failure due to an abnormally enlarged and poorly functioning heart. This typically occurs when patients are in their forties and fifties.
Amazingly, Podkolzin was discharged the following day. He will be able to participate in practices in two weeks, and can be deemed ready to compete in as little as four weeks.
These short recovery times for something as serious as brain surgery are a result of the minimally invasive procedures pioneered by Dr. Shahinian at his Skull Base Institute seven years ago along with other minimally invasive techniques for treating and removing skull-base brain tumors. Dr. Shahinian performs 200 of these procedures a year with a success rate of over 99% and to date has personally performed in excess of 2000 endoscopic brain procedures.
Podkolzin was born in Novosibirsk, Russia, January 15, 1985. Podkolzin played basketball on youth teams in his native until the age of 16 when he left Russia to play with Varese, a 1st-Division Club in the Italian League. His size and skills earned him the attention of the NBA, and Podkolzin became the 21st pick in the first round of the 2004 NBA draft.
The Skull Base Institute was founded by Dr. Shahinian in 1994 and relocated to Los Angeles in 1996. Dr. Shahinian has established the institute as the world leader in minimally-invasive, fully endoscopic procedures in the base of the skull.