CBS - TRIGEMINAL NEURALGIA
Molly Hughes: In health news, okay, imagine this - pain so unbearable people are driven to suicide. That is the kind of suffering a young Denver woman has endured for 10 years.
Alan Gionet: But now, she is pain free, thanks to brain surgery that barely left a scar. Let's turn to CBS for health specialist Kathy Walsh. Following this woman through this procedure finally gave her some relief. And this ... this is tremendous news.
Kathy Walsh: It really is. You know, she calls it, life changing. She endured terrible pain in the right side of her face, but after a state-of-the-art operation involving a little Teflon, she's a new woman. Jordan Lucy is an intern architect at a Park Hill firm. She can move walls with the click of a mouse, but she's hit a wall when it comes to pain.
Jordan: Stabbing, shooting, electric - I mean it's just what I usually described to people is that it feels like someone's taking a knife to my face.
Kathy: Ten years ago, she was diagnosed with TMJ, pain in the jaw.
Jordan: Over the years, it's just progressively gotten worse, to the point where it's basically unbearable.
Kathy: Jordan has days where she can't eat, or even talk. A gust of wind can set off a spasm. Desperate, she searched the Web and found a condition that matches her symptoms.
Jordan: It's trigeminal neuralgia, which is essentially a compression of the facial nerve.
Kathy: Medication can treat the problem, but 27-year-old Jordan is hoping for a cure.
Dr. Hrayr Shahinian: Morning.
Jordan: Good morning.
Dr. Shahinian: How are you?
Kathy: She has come to the Skull Base Institute in Los Angeles to undergo brain surgery to relieve the pain for good.
Dr. Shahinian: And hopefully by ... by ... before noon today ... ah ... we will solve this problem for you.
Dr. Shahinian: Suction moving...
Kathy: Through just a dime-sized hole in the skull behind the ear, surgeon Hrayr Shahinian uses tiny instruments he designed to separate the nerve responsible for sensation in the face from the blood vessel that is compressing it. He then inserts a small Teflon disk as a buffer.
Dr Shahinian: It is an insulator ah ... and it prevents ... ah ... the nerve from being stimulated.
Kathy: Shahinian also deadens two veins that are part of the problem. Jordan spends two days in the hospital. Weeks later, she is back at work, and a new woman. How do you feel?
Jordan: Great. I feel great.
Kathy: Any pain?
Jordan: Absolutely no pain whatsoever. It's completely gone.
Kathy: Can you show us your scar?
Kathy: A month out of surgery, Jordan's got a small scar, and a big future.
Jordan: It's like I can do whatever I want. I don't have to worry anymore, which is a huge weight off my shoulders.
Kathy: Jordan delights these days in things like eating a steak and chewing gum. And she thanks Dr. Shahinian. He developed this minimally invasive approach to brain surgery and has done thousands of operations on a number of conditions, including facial twitching, and brain tumors.
Alan: Wow. That is fascinating.
Alan: And you know, there is a way that the Web helps, too, because here's something very rare, you know.
Kathy: And you have to be careful when you're on the Web ...
Kathy: ... and you have to find the right people. But in this case, she did.
Alan: Great story.