The Doctors: Finding The Right Doctor
“When 14-year-old Christa started having excruciating headaches, her family didn’t stop until they found the right specialist,” Dr. Travis Stork said.
Her mother explained that her first bad headache lasted 10 days, and a MRI uncovered a cyst. Though doctors initially didn’t think the cyst had caused the headaches, her family was concerned.
Christa’s symptoms worsened, including loss of vision and what she described as “burning bee stings.” They visited a variety of specialists trying to find answers and solutions. They were able to rule out a variety of causes and diseases.
Christa Brain Tumor Mystery
“Nobody knows what’s going on, and it’s just been so hard finding a doctor that’s the correct one,” Christa said.
Finally, doctors agreed that the tumor should be removed, once an MRI discovered that it had significantly changed. Christa said she was scared to hear she needed brain surgery, to remove a tumor from the Pineal Region of the brain.
“It’s the most dangerous brain surgery there is,” her mother said.
Christa’s Brain Tumor Doctor Search
Dr. Travis welcomed Christa’s parents, Heather and Bruce, who talked about her case. Heather said an oncologist told her to find one of the nation’s top pediatric neurosurgeons.
Bruce added that finding the right answer and doctor was a tricky process.
New Brain Surgery Technique
Finally, they landed on Dr. Hrayr Shahinian, whose innovative new surgical technique was Christa’s best option. He explained that the entire surgery was done through a small incision.
If you’ve never seen someone drill into the skull before, it’s weird, but less gross than some of the other stuff you typically seen on this show. They got a camera into this girl’s brain. How crazy is that?
Dr. Shahinian explained that teenage skulls are less thick than fully formed adult skulls. That and the dangerous location of her tumor meant this procedure required extra care, but they were able to completely remove the tumor.
The Doctors: Brain Tumor Surgery Results
Dr. Shahinian joined The Doctors in the studio to talk about the complex challenges of this deep brain surgery. Dr. Travis asked him to compare the old process for this surgery to his innovative new method.
The traditional procedure required drilling through the back of the skull, followed by retracting the brain in a surgery that can last up to nine hours. Dr. Shahinian’s method takes just two and a half hours and has a much shorter recovery time of about 48 hours.
As for the new surgery, “the tumor is taken out completely through a keyhole, very small opening, with the help of a fiber optic, high definition, very small scope,” Dr. Shahinian said.
Brain Surgery MRI Before & After
Scans of Christa’s brain before and after her surgery revealed that the Pineal Gland tumor was completely removed. A smiling and healthy Christa finally appeared on the set to share her side of this complicated story.
“I woke up after the surgery, and I remember this really vividly,” she said. “I could see, and I’d had a headache for so long that was so bad, I didn’t know I had a headache anymore.”
Brain Tumor Surgery Candidates
Dr. Shahinian said that he was worked on patients between the ages of four months and 87 years old. “I don’t think there is any limitation in terms of age or size of the tumor,” he said.
Christa’s tumor turned out to be benign, by the way. Most of the time I’m totally grossed out by these surgeries, but this one was awesome.