Skull Base Institute

Anna S., Chanhassen, MN

Several years ago, my husband was diagnosed with an Acoustic Neuroma. The news came while Bob was on a business trip, ironically, to California. The call frightened me and left me in shock. How could I tell my husband he had a brain tumor? Before I broke the news to Bob, I wanted to do some research into what we were dealing with and how to treat it.

First, I went to the Mayo Clinic website to see how acoustic neuroma was treated. I felt sick to my stomach when I saw a diagram of a craniotomy: how doctors slit the scalp, remove the skull, and clip back the brain to remove the tumor. I was horrified. I could not tell my husband that this is what would happen to him. I cried and prayed, then I went back to do further research.

I came across an article about a new procedure to treat acoustic neuroma. The procedure entailed making a dime-size hole, but didn’t require removing parts of the skull or clamping back the brain. The patient who had this procedure done was playing tennis not long after the surgery. I was excited. I knew immediately this was the procedure for Bob.

The article listed Dr. Hrayr K. Shahinian as the surgeon who was pioneering the new procedure. My heart raced with excitement; I had to find this surgeon. He would be the one to do the surgery. We contacted Dr. Shahinian at the Skull Base Institute and scheduled an appointment.

Dr. Shahinian explained the procedure to Bob, including the risks involved. Bob immediately said he wanted Dr. Shahinian to perform the surgery. Although our primary doctor had recommended surgery in the Twin Cities, we never thought about consulting any other surgeon because they all performed the old-fashioned, archaic procedure. Bob said that he had total faith that Dr. Shahinian was the best surgeon with the best procedure for our needs. Dr. Shahinian encouraged Bob to consult other doctors, almost insisting on it. However, Bob knew that I had been totally confident from the research and would not even consider an alternative. The decision was made: Dr. Shahinian was our surgeon.

I accompanied Bob to California but had no other support for myself. Although the surgery began early in the morning, Dr. Shahinian would not be done until 8:30 in the evening. As I sat alone in the waiting room, I was comforted that Dr. Shahinian sent detailed information throughout the procedure. “We made the hole… we made our way through the skull… we have located the tumor… we have begun removing the tumor.” In addition to these regularly reports through an assistant, Dr. Shahinian also sent one of his office nurses to have lunch with me and provide me with support.

After surgery, Dr. Shahinian visited Bob and me daily and checked with the nurses to be certain Bob was carefully attended to. His caring did not end once the procedure was done; it extended well beyond with many follow-up calls, therapy referrals and emails once we returned to Minnesota.

Dr. Shahinian is an outstanding, gifted surgeon and a truly caring doctor who treats his patients like family. Never impatient or rushed, he took his time to explain everything to me and was a source of comfort and caring.

Like me, I’m sure others would like to have an alternative to the traditional craniotomy. This minimally invasive brain surgery holds promise and reduces anxiety for those who tremble at the thought of a craniotomy. My husband Bob and I can attest to the tremendous results achieved through Dr. Shahinian. We wouldn’t have it any other way.


Anna S.
Chanhassen, MN

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