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First-Ever Pituitary Tumor Surgery Performed

Sept. 21, 2004 – The Roy L. Schneider Hospital performed a first-time surgery in St. Thomas Friday morning, Sept. 17, with the collaboration and cooperation of two surgeons.
Neurosurgeon Dr. Philip St. Louis and Dr. Adam Shapiro, an ear, nose and throat specialist, performed a successful removal of a pituitary gland tumor in a St. Thomas man. Although the tumor is likely benign, the operation was needed because the tumor can cause other problems in the body.
"When a pituitary tumor is found, the pituitary gland may be making too many hormones," St. Louis said. "This can cause problems in the body such as excess fat to build up in the face, vision problems, sexual dysfunction, and high blood pressure."
St. Louis said the operation was made possible by a neural microscope which gave the surgeons the ability to identify key structures in the nose and base of the brain.
Pituitary tumors are found in the pituitary gland, a small organ about the size of a pea at the base of the brain just above the back of the nose. Shapiro made the initial examination using an endoscope through the patient's nose.
"Dr. Shapiro's help was essential in the operation," St. Louis said, "as was the entire operating room staff. It was a team effort, and that is why the operation went smoothly from a technical standpoint."
According to hospital press materials, pituitary tumors are best treated when they are found and diagnosed early. Persons who have this condition report symptoms such as headaches, vision problems, nausea or vomiting, and other symptoms caused by too many hormones. The most common treatment is surgery.

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