Clinton S., Los Angeles, CA
I am a 69-year-old Black American male, who is licensed to practice as a professional engineer. The last 22 years of my active career were spent designing and testing high-reliability components for use in fiber-optic cameras, robots, and remote imaging.
Over the last four decades, the lab for which I worked has developed many new advances in instrumentation for space applications. Surgeons are currently using many of these instruments to perform minimally invasive surgery, including brain surgery.
Several years ago, while driving, I was unable to see cars that passed me until they were 20 degrees of my field of vision. I made an appointment with my optometrist, and after a series of tests, he recommended that I see a neurologist.
During my visits with the neurologist, an MRI showed a 2.33cm tumor on my pituitary gland. I scheduled an appointment to see my HMO’s brain surgeon.
I became concerned when the brain surgeon explained how he would perform the surgery. His method would require shaving my head and cutting through my skull, a procedure called an open craniotomy.
I paid for a second opinion with an outside brain surgeon, who uses a method called transsphenoidal surgery. This procedure requires cutting under the top lip and pulling part of the face up in order to remove the tumor. After surgery, problems associated with this method are headaches, facial and sinus pain, fever, chills and facial swelling.
My daughter’s Sunday school teacher, an anesthesiologist, recommended that I see Dr. Shahinian at the Skull Base Institute. This was my third opinion. During my visit, Dr. Shahinian explained how the procedure would be performed using space-age technology and instruments.
The procedure, called an endoscopic procedure, consists of using a fiber-optic camera in one nostril to see the tumor, while using a robot instrument in the other nostril to remove the tumor. He told me that my stay in the hospital would be no more than 48 hours, and I should have a complete recovery in 30 days. My family and I chose this minimally invasive procedure.
Dr. Shahinian requested that I see a cardiologist for a pre-op examination. This request was a “life saver”. Based on findings from my pre-op exam, I discovered I needed a quintuple heart bypass operation.
Dr. Shahinian removed my tumor using the endoscopic procedure, and I went home from the hospital two days later. My wife and I were dancing at our annual holiday party dancing a month after that. Our friends could not believe that we would be there.
As with all new technologies, the old-school professionals will be in opposition because they don’t understand it. As a professional myself, I understand that any individual who attempts to bring forth change to his or her field is subject to be challenged. Galileo was put under house arrest for saying that the earth was round. General Billy Mitchell was reduced in rank for saying the airplane would be a major weapon for war.
I hope that Dr. Shahinian and other surgeons like him continue to use this minimally invasive procedure so patients like myself can be helped.
Los Angeles, CA
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