LOS ANGELES, Oct. 18 /PRNewswire/ -- One of the most difficult-to-remove tumors located deep in the midbrain area can now be safely excised thanks to the work of one Los Angeles surgeon. Hrayr Shahinian, M.D., medical director of the Skull Base Institute in Los Angeles, has developed a minimally invasive approach to removing pineal tumors, so called for their pinecone shape. The new procedure is expected to replace the more invasive open brain approach favored by neurosurgeons, which leaves patients more vulnerable to brain damage and other side effects as well as long and difficult recoveries. Shahinian says his patients are enjoying healthier asymptomatic lives not to mention much shorter treatment and recovery times.
More common in children (average age of diagnosis is 13), pineal tumors can cause headaches, nausea, fatigue, visual impairments, double vision, memory problems, seizures and, in children, precocious puberty. While 20% of pineal tumors are benign or relatively benign, 80% are highly malignant and their exact cause is unknown. Even benign tumors can be problematic as they can press on nearby brain structures causing painful and serious reactions.
The new procedure involves making a dime-size opening behind the ear, inserting a small endoscope over the top of the cerebellum and accessing the deep-seated pineal tumor through a natural pathway. This eliminates the need for metal retractors or going through brain tissue to reach the problem area.
"I'm delighted that my endoscopic approach is bringing hope and relief to patients suffering from pineal tumors," said Dr. Hrayr Shahinian. "For patients suffering from significant symptoms, open brain surgery is often the first option. When surgery is required, this minimally invasive approach is an excellent and safe alternative and results in much short