Skull Base Institute

Robert H., Truckee, CA

I am probably not the typical patient that Dr. Shahinian sees. I did not have a tumor or any of the problems that he usually treats. An accident left me with multiple injuries; I nearly didn’t survive. I had massive injuries to my face, forehead and extremities. The initial surgery was 11 hours, which led to 37 days in the hospital, 21 of them in the ICU. Needless to say, I dealt with many doctors, nurses and medical professionals.

As time went by, my condition improved, but I noticed fluid leaking from my nose. When I would awake in the morning, there would be a wet spot beneath my face 10 to 12 inches in diameter. I saw several doctors, and they dismissed my symptoms. They said I had serious facial trauma and chronic sinusitis. Finally, an ENT specialist, who was a relative of a personal friend, said that I should get this checked out. It turned out that the fluid coming out of my nose was CSF, or cerebral spinal fluid. I saw multiple doctors, and they all indicated that the problem was damage to the dura bone in the cribiform plate area. They all said it could be eventually become life threatening, as bacteria could enter my brain through this leak. Surgery was inevitable to repair the damage.

My local ENT performed an endoscopic nasal procedure to access the cribiform plate area and repair the leak. In his words, he plugged the hole with “snot” . He claimed the surgery was successful and I would never have this problem again. One month later, fluid was coming out my nose again. The doctor said it was fluid after surgery and would stop.

It never stopped.

My wife and I then started searching for a doctor who could solve the problem. Most of the doctors asked me to come in for an office visit. Obviously, it is not practical to fly all over the country for an “office visit”. We resorted to the Internet to do research, which lead us to Dr. Shahinian and the Skull Base Institute. I called his office and spoke with his assistant, Nicole. She was both professional and compassionate. This was the first time in many, many months that we felt like we were finding the information and getting the attention we so desperately needed.

Soon thereafter I spoke with Dr. Shahinian, and he asked me to send the results of my previous MRI and cisternogram. Once he had reviewed the test results, he agreed I needed surgery. I felt very comfortable with Dr. Shahinian’s approach to the problem and scheduled an office visit and surgery date.

Dr. Shahinian thoroughly explained the options for surgery to my wife and me. One option was to go in with an endoscope and be minimally invasive. However, because of the location for the endoscope incision, it would leave a scar on my face. We decided to do a full craniotomy. As it turned out, the craniotomy was the best way to do the surgery. The damage to my dura and skull was not in the cribiform plate but in the base of the skull. There were three holes – one the size of a quarter and two the size of dimes. While my surgery was quite lengthy, Dr. Shahinian repaired the damage and I was only in the hospital a few days. My recovery from the CSF leak has been 100% successful. I have had no residual problems.

My experience with Dr. Shahinian has been entirely positive from the first conversations on the phone to the surgery to post op. Of the 20 or so doctors I dealt with during the years since my accident, Dr. Shahinian has been the most professional, compassionate and dedicated and by far the most knowledgeable. His work saved my life. My wife and I had really begun to give up hope on the medical world, as no one would offer the time, experience or knowledge to help me. Dr. Shahinian is a breath of fresh air to the medical community.

Robert H.
Truckee, CA

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