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Patient Testimonials and Pituitary Tumor Resources

 Pituitary Tumor: Success Stories

Sam and Cathey P., Los Angeles, CA
My husband Sam has experienced pituitary surgeries on both ends of the spectrum. We know firsthand the amazing difference between Dr. Shahinian's non-invasive surgical techniques and the "old school" techniques of removing pituitary tumors. Here is our story.

Over 10 years ago, my husband was diagnosed with a pituitary tumor. Before that, he had been experiencing horrendous headaches for several years. Our neurologist kept telling us that Sam was just experiencing typical migraines. Every time we went to see the doctor, I would ask, "Don't you think we need an MRI?" His response was always the same: "No. These are just typical migraines. Nothing showed up on the CAT scan."

Then Sam had a headache so painful that he was throwing up and losing his sight. Again I called his neurologist and was told this is just typical. I took matters into my own hands and rushed my husband to the emergency room at Cedars-Sinai. Eventually they sent him to an ophthalmologist. The ophthalmologist discovered that something was pushing on my husband's optic nerve.

Finally, an MRI discovered a huge pituitary tumor that had to come out quickly. Even now it is heartbreaking to look back on all the senseless suffering my husband and family went through.

At this point we were referred to another doctor. I'll call him "Dr. Y". My husband and I were both scared to death. We were told the tumor was really big and needed to come out right away. We sent a copy of the MRI to a radiologist in Salt Lake City to get a second opinion. He agreed that surgery was the only option.

We put our trust in "Dr. Y". He presented himself as totally experienced and an expert in the area of removing pituitary tumors. So my husband had his tumor removed.

After surgery, my husband was in intensive care for 2 days and in the hospital for another 3 days. He was in tremendous pain, put on morphine and totally out of it. He could not even watch TV. His hormone levels were completely messed up, changing his personality for the worse. He had to immediately go on hormones. He also had to have packing pulled out of his nose. His head was sore for weeks due to the jig they put his head in for surgery.

Dr. Y had an MRI done immediately after the surgery and pronounced that everything had gone great. Sam and I were relieved and felt that we could finally put this nightmare behind us.

One year later, Sam went in for his follow-up MRI. Dr. Y told us that everything looked great. Again we were both relieved.

Fast forward to two years after his first surgery. Sam was experiencing headaches almost every day. They were not debilitating, but he knew something wasn't right. Sam had an MRI. Dr. Y informed us that the tumor had come back. We were devastated.

This time, the tumor was not pushing on the optic nerve so I had some time to do a little research. I was put in contact with Bob Knutson, the man who ran I explained my entire situation to him. The first thing he told me "It is rare that pituitary tumors come back." Bob then gave me the name of 3 surgeons in Los Angeles who are experts in pituitary tumors. Dr. Hrayr Shahinian was one of the 3 surgeons on the list.

So, Sam and I went for a consultation with Dr. Shahinian. He was very personable and very informative about the type of procedure he does. Right away I felt that this man was honest, knew what he was talking about, and I liked the way he and his staff made us feel welcome. He looked at Sam's MRI and the first thing he said was "I see that the tumor is still there." My jaw dropped. I said, "Are you sure?" He showed me not only the tumor on the MRI, but the report that was written by Dr. Y's office stating that the tumor was there one year after surgery.

Much to our dismay, Dr Y's had not gotten the entire tumor out. His report confirmed this, but he had never once mentioned that fact to Sam and me. I was so angry.

I did more research on Dr. Shahinian and found that he is a star in his field, developing surgical techniques that are less invasive and more accurate. He performs surgeries that other surgeons will not even attempt.

On December 15th of that year, Dr. Shahinian performed the surgery on Sam. We were just amazed at how much easier this surgery was compared to the first surgery. Sam did not have to go to ICU. In fact, Sam got went home 24 hours after surgery. The only pain medication Sam took was Extra Strength Tylenol. Sam's hormone levels were normal. Sam had no pain and no scabs from the head jig. There was no nasal packing. The difference in the 2 surgeries was just remarkable. Sam came home, felt great, and we had a wonderful Christmas.

Dr. Shahinian's passion for his work and for the well-being of his patients continues to amaze me. He personally made follow-up phone calls after my husband came home from the hospital. When we had a problem with our insurance, his staff generously helped pursue the matter. Recently, I was on the phone to his staff regarding my 85-year-old father-in-law who has been diagnosed with a pituitary tumor. Dr. Shahinian generously offered to review his MRIs free of charge.

Our experience with Dr. Shahinian and the Skull Base Institute has been a Gift from God.

Sam and Cathy P.
Los Angeles, CA

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