In health watch today, a warning about a common contraceptive is being linked to blood clots.

David Gonzales: Also brain surgery usually means cutting into the skull, but not for a local woman. Dilva Henry has the story.

Dilva Henry: That's right. She found a surgeon and this is really, really amazing - minimally invasive to say the least. Polina Dudaklian got what she thought was nearly a death sentence. Last month, she was diagnosed with a benign brain tumor that was growing fast. Her option: a long surgery, a long recovery, if she pulled through. But she felt a different and newer option, which she now considers a miracle.

You can't tell by looking at her, but Polina Dudaklian had brain surgery just a day and a half ago to remove a walnut-size tumor that was growing.

Polina: I was facing life and death. I was terrified.

Dilva: She was diagnosed last month. Polina was told the surgery required ... it could take up to 12 hours.

Polina: He didn't give me a lot of chances of survival.

Dilva: Here's an animated look at what happens during the surgery in open craniotomy, which involves cutting into the head and basically sawing through the skull.

Polina: I left his office crying, saying I don't want him to cut my skull and I don't want to shave my head.

Dilva: But then, she found Dr. Hrayr Shahinian, director of the Skull Base Institute in West Los Angeles. He performs what's called minimally invasive endoscopic brain surgery. It doesn't involve cutting through the skull.

Dr. Shahinian: Through the nose, or very tiny stab incisions, either in the hair of the eyebrow, or behind the ear.

Dilva: It's thanks to fiber-optic technology. It's shown here with animation using the eyebrow as an entry point.

Dr. Shahinian: And the endoscope is just a ... like a camera. It's... it's sort of a fiber-optic instrument that gives you a panoramic view on a plasma screen.

Dilva: And doctors eventually get to the tumor.

Dr. Shahinian: We have an ultrasonic instrument like this one that actually vacuums the inside ... ah ... of the tumor. It cores it out ...ah ... and then the final ... ah ... thing to take out is the shell, the capsule of the tumor.

Dilva: Polina's surgery took two- and-a-half hours. It was done in her hairline just above the ear - no drilling, no shaven head.

Dr. Shahinian: I would say it's like being a thief in the middle of the night. You want to go in and out without the brain knowing you were there.

Dilva: Exactly how Polina feels.

Polina: Very small incision. And you cannot tell even I had a brain surgery. I feel great. I'm a ... it's a miracle happen.

Reg Dudaklian: God giving longer life, health ...

Dilva: That was Reg, her husband. Polina says she's looking forward to getting back to her normal activities, which includes, among other things, taking care of her elderly mother and ill sister. For more information on the Skull Base Institute and its procedure, you can go to our website KCAL9.com and click on the links and numbers.


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