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OU Medicine Physicians Restore Hope for Oklahoma City Woman Through Unique Surgical Approach to Removing Tumors

Tuesday, December 17, 2013 - Campus News -

Oklahoma City businesswoman Bonnie Naifeh can finally say she is optimistic about her future after a bout with a tumor that grew in the middle of her head.  
A frustrating battle against a persistent tumor in her pituitary gland now appears to be over thanks to a team of physicians at OU Medical Center who removed it through her nose by using a procedure that is less invasive than traditional approaches. 
The procedure—called endoscopic pituitary surgery—uses an endoscope, or a thin tube that has a built-in microscope, light and camera to reach the tumor through the nose.
Naifeh's surgery was performed in July. It was the third time she'd undergone attempts to remove the tumor, which kept growing back. The side effects got worse, so she came to OU Medical Center. 

"I was terrified. I was thinking this is the third time and I'm out, probably...I'm going to die."  
Fortunately, most pituitary gland tumors are not cancerous, but left untreated, a person could lose their eyesight. Studies show that some tumors can cause more disease, even death.  
Naifeh's endoscopic pituitary surgery was part of a team approach at OU Medical Center, including ear, nose and throat surgeons, neurosurgeons and an endocrinologist. 

The ear, nose and throat surgeon first paved the way to the tumor.  By watching images from the endoscope on a video monitor, the surgeon then passed the scope through the bony back wall of the sinus.  The neurosurgeon stepped in after the scope reached the pituitary area and removed the tumor in tiny pieces. 

Because the pituitary gland is responsible for regulating most of a body's hormones, an endocrinologist who specializes in glands and hormones was also involved throughout the process. The endonasal endoscopic technique provides a better view than other methods which limit a surgeon's vision and flexibility. Surgeons at OU Medical Center use a single nostril technique, which is less invasive than the commonly-used two nostril approach.

"The endoscope allows me to look around the corners of the pituitary area.  In the past, surgeons could only see down a very narrow, straight path—perhaps not seeing the entire tumor.  The endoscope allows for greater accessibility," said Dr. Michael Sughrue, the OU Medical Center neurosurgeon who performed Naifeh's procedure.

Ear, nose and throat surgeon, Dr. Jose Sanclement said he and Sughrue used a unique, single-nostril approach during Naifeh's surgery. The physicians believe it makes the procedure even less invasive than other endoscopic tumor removals.  

"It is a more stealth or less invasive, approach. There's better healing, it's more anatomical and functional—leaving their anatomy essentially unchanged," Sanclement said.  
Before coming to OU Medical Center, Naifeh experienced many complications after a different type of surgery attempted to remove the tumor—which eventually grew back. 

"With my second surgery, it took so long for me to come back.  After this surgery, my sense of smell is working, my sense of taste is working and I feel so blessed. I feel nothing has been altered with this surgery," Naifeh said. 
Post-surgery, endocrinologist, Dr. Jonea Lim manages Naifeh's pituitary hormone production as a key component in the multidisciplinary approach.

"I assess baseline pituitary hormone production before and after surgery and manage them accordingly," Lim said. Naifeh looks forward to a tumor-free future.

"My thoughts overall are that I am so grateful, because if I had not gone to that team, it might not have been done as thoroughly.  I've had minimal down-time. It's been very positive," Naifeh said.   
For more information about endonasal endoscopic surgery (EEA) and other unique types of surgeries, please visit

OU Medicine is the collective brand for OU Medical Center, OU Physicians and the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine. Headquartered at the Oklahoma Health Center campus near downtown Oklahoma City, OU Medicine is the state's largest academic medical complex. Among other things, it provides health care, conducts medical research and educates the physicians of tomorrow.  

OU Medical Center is home to the state's only level one trauma center and The Children's Hospital, Oklahoma's most comprehensive pediatric facility. Members of OU Physicians, the state's largest physicians group, provide care at the hospital facilities and at OU Physicians clinics in Oklahoma City and across the state. The practice includes almost every adult and child specialty, and some of its physicians have pioneered treatments or procedures that are world-firsts. 

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