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Patient Testimonials and Pituitary Tumor Resources

 Pituitary Tumor: Success Stories

Fred J., Bellingham, WA
Dr. Hrayr Shahinian is a Trailblazing Surgeon

It all started when my partner Elizabeth had a CAT scan performed on her head. She wanted to have a small bluish blemish the size of a dime removed from her jaw line. Her doctor had her take the CAT scan as a precaution, to see if there was anything that might preclude surgery.

The CAT scan revealed a large mass near her pituitary gland. At this revelation we were confronted by questions: whom should we see, where should we go, does it need to be removed? We proceeded to investigate and research doctors, treatments and hospitals.

We flew from Bellingham, Washington to Palo Alto to speak to a doctor at Stanford Medical. He told us it was a pituitary tumor that needed to be surgically removed and that he had done the procedure hundreds of times. The procedure would take about seven hours; a spinal drain would be placed “just in case” and that the recovery time would be months.

After several additional tests, we saw two more doctors in Seattle. They described the same process for the tumor removal: opening up Leza’s skull, the spinal drain, nasal packing and a long recovery time.

During this time we read on the Internet that a Dr. Hrayr Shahinian, head of the Skull Base Institute in LA, used a minimally invasive procedure to remove brain tumors at Cedars-Sinai Hospital. Entering through a small hole in the back of the right nostril, the tumor could be removed endoscopically in a very short time with no spinal drain or nasal packing and that recovery time was 1/4th of other traditional operations.

After sending Leza’s xrays and other data and having a telephone interview with Dr. Shahinian, his office sent us news that he could indeed remove her tumor. We flew to LA and met him in his modern office in Beverly Hills. We had a prepared list of questions for him, and he answered all of them with confidence and humor. We liked his straightforward demeanor and his minimally invasive technique. The surgery was scheduled for three days later.

Once Dr. Shahinian started the operation, I prepared myself for hours of pacing in the waiting room. Exactly one hour and ten minutes later, Dr. Shahinian came striding into the room with a huge grin on his face. He told me enthusiastically that the operation was completed. The tumor was NOT cancerous, that it likely would not return in her lifetime and that she would be up and walking around in 24 hours.

Dr. Shahinian was right in every respect. Leza walked 24 hours later. She was discharged from Cedars-Sinai on the third day, and we flew home to Washington two days later. Other than a stuffy head and no ability to smell or taste, Leza felt good. She did not look like she had brain surgery. Dr. Shahinian’s minimally invasive techniques worked exactly as he said they would. There was no need for painful nasal packing or spinal tap with this method of surgery.

Within 40 days, Leza went back to work. She gradually regained her sense of smell and taste. There has been no indication that the tumor has come back. In other words, in one hour and ten minutes this brilliant physician and surgeon, Dr. Hrayr Shahinian and his German-made endoscopic instruments successfully removed the tumor. The recovery time was weeks instead of months.

Dr. Shahinian is now on my list of great men.

Since observing Leza’s remarkable operation and recovery I have wondered why more doctors do not use Dr. Shahinian’s procedures. I have asked many doctors about this and the consensus was that doctors tend to learn a procedure and stick with it. If it works they are slow to change. On the other hand, more and more procedures are being performed without cutting the patient open. A single small hole where the endoscope enters leaves a small mark where a long, ugly scar would have been.

I commend Dr. Shahinian for this wonderful act of advancing medicine. He should be held up as an example of the way of the future in brain surgery.

Fred J.
Bellingham, WA

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Minimally Invasive Skull Base and Brain Surgery (FAQ) Questions and Answers: Skull Base InstituteSkull Base Institute Pituitary Center Programs, Skull Base Programs, Childrens Pituitary Programs: Skull Base Institute