Surgeons Team Up to Remove Pituitary Gland Tumor

Doctors performing surgery in hospital operating room

Jan. 3, 2018

Carolyn Pry says members of her church congregation were surprised to see her in Sunday worship just days after she’d had brain surgery.

The 69-year-old retired school teacher from Emerson no longer has headaches or feels dizzy after two UAMS surgeons removed a tumor using a multidisciplinary, non-invasive approach.

Pry’s problems began when her local primary care physician discovered the pituitary macroadenoma following a minor stroke in April. After a referral to a specialist, Pry ultimately called UAMS for another opinion. Neurosurgeon Analiz Rodriguez, M.D., Ph.D., who specializes in primary and secondary brain tumors and endoscopy, was able to schedule her for the following week.

The pituitary macroadenoma is a tumor that forms on the pituitary gland, a pea-sized structure located at the base of the brain, just behind the bridge of the nose.

“To access the tumor, we had to go through the nose,” Rodriguez says. “Ideally, a neurosurgeon works with an otolaryngologist during this type of surgery because it results in a better outcome for the patient: less pain and faster healing.”

“I felt very good about Dr. Rodriguez from the moment I met her,” Pry says. “She and Dr. Kanaan both worked very well with me. They’re a godsend.”

Alissa Kanaan, M.D., director of the Rhinology Division in the Department of Otolaryngology, worked alongside Rodriguez in the surgery.

Kanaan began the surgery by cutting through the nasal cavity to create an opening through the sinuses to reach the skull base where the tumor is located. She prepared a wide enough passage to remove the growth. Once she cleared the way, Rodriguez retrieved the tumor in small pieces.

After the surgery, Kanaan took out any debris that blocked air passages, and both doctors scheduled post-operation monitoring for the patient.

Pry says Kanaan, Rodriguez and their staffs are very compassionate and accommodating. On the day of her operation, each came by regularly to make sure her family was comfortable as they waited. Since Pry lives more than three hours away from UAMS, the physicians coordinated scheduling to make it more convenient for Pry.

“They made me feel like I’m the only patient they have,” she says. “I could not have asked for better doctors or facilities. I highly recommend UAMS to anyone.”