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New Minimally Invasive Pituitary Surgery

New Britain [January 15 2007] - Surgeons at the Hospital of Central Connecticut have teamed up to remove certain brain tumors using minimally invasive techniques.
A neurosurgeon and an ear, nose, and throat surgeon began collaborating last fall using an innovative technique to remove pituitary tumors inside the brain.
Minimally invasive removal of pituitary tumors is a relatively new procedure; surgeons at the Hospital of Central Connecticut are the only ones in the area performing it now. In the procedure, surgeons guide an endoscope through one nostril, into the nasal canals and beyond, into the center of the brain where the pituitary gland is located. The endoscope provides a wide-angle view, which is essential to successful removal of the entire tumor. Tumors, on average about two centimeters, are removed through this same nasal pathway.
A relatively small number of people — about 14 in 100,000 — experience pituitary tumors. The benign type, known as adenomas, represent the third most common primary intracranial tumor encountered in neurosurgical practice. But even if benign, the sheer mass of a tumor can cause serious problems . Because the pituitary gland is located below the optic nerves and the hypothalamus, an abnormal mass one to two centimeters in size can interfere with various brain functions, including vision, and balance and other equilibrium functions. Generally, in cases like these, patients begin to lose their eyesight, as well as experiencing other problems with balance.
Drs. Alden L Stock and Donald Weinberg, ear nose and throat surgeons, and Dr. Ahmed Khan, a neurosurgeon, both at The Hospital of Central Connecticut’s New Britain campus, performed three such successful procedures last fall. Dr. Stock said that, on average, he sees about six patients a year who require surgery for this condition.
Dr. Stock explained that the traditional surgery to remove these tumors involves large facial incisions, takes four hours, and involves much more discomfort and longer recovery times for patients.
The endoscopic endonasal transsphenoidal surgery, as it is called, takes about two hours. No incisions are necessary and patients are quite comfortable after surgery. There are no outward signs that a patient has had brain surgery. “It is very gratifying,” said Dr. Stock. The surgery has an immediate impact on his patients, who have improved vision the day after surgery.
“This is what we hope for in medicine. We have had very positive outcomes with very minimal pain and recovery time for our patients,” Dr. Stock said, adding that the procedure requires the collaboration of an experienced neurosurgeon.
Dr. Ahmed Khan, who has become well-known for innovative neurosurgical procedures, as well as various brain and spinal surgeries for more common maladies, such as chronic back pain.
“This surgery is not experimental,” Dr. Khan said, “but it is still relatively new. Our team is the only one in the area performing endoscopic pituitary tumor removal.”
Drs. Stock and Weinberg can be reached at the Grove Hill Medical Center in New Britain at 860-224-2631. Dr. Ahmed Khan’s neurosurgery practice is located in the Hart Street Medical Buildings, 860-225-1227.

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