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Patient Testimonials and Pituitary Tumor Resources

 Acoustic Neuroma: Success Stories

Lynn M., La Habra, CA
I am a college-educated woman who has worked in the Worker's Compensation industry for twenty years. A number of years ago, I noticed slight numbness in my right lower lip. My personal physician promptly referred me for an MRI, and we discovered that I had a brain tumor.

I visited a neurosurgeon who had seemingly impressive credentials. He diagnosed me with "either an acoustic neuroma or meningioma". He explained that he would need to remove a 4-inch piece of my skull to access the tumor, drain the spinal fluid, then use a blood patch at the surgical site. With the gravity of what I was hearing, I inquired how many of these surgeries he performs per year. His response was "one, maybe two." He suggested that I obtain a second opinion. Invasive surgery was the only option discussed.

I then met with another neurosurgeon with 30+ years of experience in the field. After a three-hour interview/assessment, he advised that I would most definitely have total loss of hearing in my right ear, as he would go through the inner ear canal to access what he diagnosed as an acoustic neuroma. He said there was a great likelihood of facial paralysis ("droopy face") difficulty swallowing, and difficulty in closing my eyelid. He estimated that I would be in the hospital for one week and out of work for at least four months. He mentioned that he might also opt to remove a portion of my skull to access and remove the tumor. These two surgical procedures were the only options offered.

In discussing my medical situation with a nurse with whom I work, she took it upon herself to research acoustic neuromas and their treatment. She discovered the Skull Base Institute. I, too, located this information and viewed a brief video showing a minimally invasive surgery to excise an acoustic neuroma. The information stated that only a dime-sized hole is made behind the ear, and that the patient is typically in the hospital for only two days. I immediately scheduled a consultation with Dr. Shahinian.

I found Dr. Shahinian to be very professional, confident, honest, and sensitive to my situation. He developed this minimally invasive procedure to reduce the risks to his patients. Although he could not guarantee an avoidance of hearing loss, he told me that the trauma to facial nerves and subsequent side effects were greatly reduced, if not eliminated. For this reason, I chose the Skull Base Institute under the skillful care of Dr. Shahinian.

I underwent an endoscopic resection to remove a large cerebellopontine angle tumor. When I awoke from anesthesia, Dr. Shahinian was at my bedside. He advised that he decided to abort the surgery for safety reasons after the right retrosigmoid craniectomy was performed. The attachment to the robotic arm (used to hold the fiber optics that provide a live picture of the tumor) was lost between my surgery and the one prior. I strongly believe he exercised good judgment by not electing to complete the surgery freehand.

I understand that Dr. Shahinian purchased two replacement parts from Japan out of his own pocket and had them shipped to him so my second surgery could go forward as soon as possible. That occurred uneventfully a few weeks after the first attempted surgery.

Throughout my surgery, Dr. Shahinian and/or his staff provided regular updates to my family members to help ease their concern. Post-surgery, Dr. Shahinian exhibited excellent bedside manner and genuine care for my recovery. I was in the hospital for 2 days and was back to work in five weeks, versus the four months that the two other neurosurgeons had forecast.

I have the utmost confidence, respect and admiration for Dr. Hrayr Shahinian. Each time I have occasion to hear of someone facing the diagnosis of a brain tumor, I always mention Dr. Shahinian and the Skull Base Institute. Their work is invaluable in lifting the human spirit when other medical options provide dim, if any, hope.

I wish for the Skull Base Institute's continued success in developing medical procedures, as it seems they are one of the few entities that do not fear change, look for the betterment of man, and are not driven by financial gain.


Lynn M.
La Habra, CA

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