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"Frank is Dead" declares internationally renowned surgeon after biopsy reveals 9-year-old's tumor is no longer cancerous

Much to the relief of well-wishers across the globe, internationally renowned skull base surgeon Hrayr Shahinian, M.D., of the Skull Base Institute in Los Angeles, has announced that "Frank is Dead." "Frank" is the nickname that 9-year-old cancer patient David Dingman-Grover ascribed to his brain tumor, which many specialists believed to be inoperable. In a revolutionary departure from the traditional and highly invasive brain surgery known as a craniotomy, Shahinian utilized a highly advanced endoscopic technique to access and remove the walnut-sized tumor. A post-operative MRI as well as the pathology conducted on the tumor and double checked by two neuropathologists indicates that the youngster's cancer has been eradicated.

Dingman-Grover's story received international attention when his mother, in an effort to raise money to offset medical costs, created a bumper sticker declaring that "Frank Must Die." The family auctioned the stickers on Ebay and was able to raise $40,000 to help defray costs not covered by medical insurance.

Removing the tumor posed a particularly daunting challenge for Shahinian due to its central location at the base of the skull in an area known as the "Turkish saddle," which is fully encompassed by the three arteries responsible for supplying all blood flow to the brain. Furthermore, the region is bordered by the optic nerve and the pituitary gland, leaving an extremely limited approach for accessing the tumor. Lending added complexity was the fact that the tumor's growth resulted in thinner bone in the skull's protective structure around the arteries. After completing the tumor removal process, Shahinian injected the area with a substance known as Floseal, a foamy filler material that helps stop bleeding by sealing tissue. Thanks to the minimally invasive nature of the endoscopic procedure, Dingman-Grover's procedure lasted less than two hours and he was discharged from the hospital after a one-day recuperative period. Now under the watchful eyes of his highly capable team of oncologists, the youngster is expected to complete a final week-long round of chemotherapy before being put on a program of regular observation and follow-up MRI testing by his physicians.

"We are absolutely relieved to learn that Dr. Shahinian's procedure to remove David's tumor was successful and that the pathology results indicate that his cancer is in remission," said the boy's mother, Tiffini Dingman-Grover, who revealed that the surgeon was so moved by the youngster's resolve to overcome this life-challenge that he performed the surgery at no cost. "After being told by numerous physicians that David would have to undergo a radical and risky 12-hour procedure, followed by an intensive 30-day hospital stay, we were relieved to discover Dr. Shahinian. We are eternally grateful to him and his team for getting involved and using their expertise to give David and our family hope for a normal life."

David Dingman-Grover was diagnosed in May 2003 with a grapefruit-sized malignant skull base tumor that chemotherapy later shrank to one-third of its original size. After being told that the boy's face would have to be removed in a radical attempt to access the tumor, the mother turned to the Internet and discovered Shahinian and his success in using his minimally invasive alternative to the craniotomy. (This relatively "barbaric" procedure involves making an incision from ear to ear, pulling back the skin to expose the skull, sawing off the top portion to reach the brain and attempting to correct the abnormality in question.) Impressed by the boy's inner strength and determination to fight his tumor, Shahinian immediately availed himself to do all he could to help young David.

"After learning of the extreme measures David's family were undertaking to get young David the care he deserved, I offered my services and reviewed his case," added Shahinian. "He was an excellent candidate for endoscopic skull base surgery and I am delighted that the procedure yielded such positive results. On behalf of all of us at the Skull Base Institute, I wish him and his family all the best as he continues on his road to recovery."

Shahinian has turned the medical community upside down by shunning the traditional craniotomy with his endoscopic approach to skull base surgery. To date, Shahinian and his world-class team of surgeons, neurologists, endocrinologists and other medical professionals have treated more than 2,000 patients using advanced endoscopy and, as a result, are leading to a paradigm shift in this field of medicine despite some opposition from traditionalists who are holding on to long-established practices and are resistant to change.