Author Topic: Any experiences with Dr. Brackmann at House Ear in LA?  (Read 25577 times)

Kath

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Re: Any experiences with Dr. Brackmann at House Ear in LA?
« Reply #15 on: December 15, 2006, 05:29:06 pm »
I had visited 6 physicians and 2 phy. asst. (not my favorite people, but I went) to find out to understand what was wrong with my right ear.  It wasn't until my cousins recommended me to get an appt. with the House Ear Institute.  I had found an ENT doctor that has been featured on Oprah's tv show, but was unable to see him to say that the medicine was not working as he was on tour for a couple of weeks.  I called the House Ear Inst. to share my problem.  The clinic made an appt.with me the next day to assess the problem, and I was able to go onto a business appt in Portland and return for a CT scan when I returned.  It was really a difficult 2 years, having to give up mountain biking, night hiking and rollerblading after work as I was too off balance.  He understood my lifestyle was being very much affected, and took me as a patient right on the spot. 

When I had any issue, Dr. Brackmann  would call right back.  Due to his 'watch and wait' philosophy, I did not have to go to surgery, and my 'small tumor' shrank and is no longer present on CT film.  It took 1 year of 'watch and wait', and being impatient it bugged me to death.   I have since recommended relatives to see him, and he immediately figured out their problems.

Since then, I have gone in for emergency surgery for another issue, and I can only say their team is the best in working out my insurance (and Consumer Reports gave it a black ball), AND they really cared about me and my hearing.  I have not had to visit any other ENT for further diagnosis.    I hope you found as great of a surgeon as I had found with Dr. Brackmann.

Kate B

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Re: Any experiences with Dr. Brackmann at House Ear in LA?
« Reply #16 on: May 25, 2009, 03:16:24 am »
I am late to join this thread, but wanted to add my own story.

I concur. Dr. Brackman is outstanding.  When I was doing my own research originally, I thought I would find a research hospital in Chicago and at first I ignored HEI.  I made the personal choice to go to HEI in November 2001 to have Middle Fossa surgery as the docs in Chicago at that time operated using retrosigmoid. They had just begun using Middle Fossa. I was one who's presenting symptoms were balance issues, not hearing loss. Because I had 100% hearing, I wanted to attempt hearing preservation after facial nerve preservation. The Middle Fossa outcomes were better for hearing preservation in the medical literature.

I had Middle Fossa Surgery for a 1.5 cm right sided AN (considered medium sized) on November 29, 2001 with Dr.
Brackmann and Dr. Hitselberger. Dr. Hitselberger had to be in his seventies (based on med school dates) at the time and I remember being concerned about his age.
He was used to the question and showed me his steady hand and was reassuring about it.

The staff at House and St. Vincents were very professional and
used to handling acoustic patients. As a matter of fact, House used the
whole sixth floor of St. Vincent's Hospital.

My surgery was 4-41/2 hours. My facial nerve was preserved, my eye closed all
the way and I retained much hearing. (note: I had 100% hearing prior to the
surgery in that ear.  Now I have 50% low frequencies and ~80% high
frequencies and 84% word discrimination.)  BTW, my six week check up and hearing test were better than when I left St. Vincents.

I am very grateful for incredible surgeons and the experience of the House team, although I never take my outcome for granted.
Seven years later, my MRI's are still good and I still have usable hearing in my ear although at my next hearing test, I won't be surprised if I've lost some word discrimination points.

Kindest Regards,
Kate
« Last Edit: May 25, 2009, 04:26:46 am by Kate B »
Kate
Middle Fossa Surgery
@ House Ear Institute with
Dr. Brackmann, Dr. Hitselberger
November 2001
1.5 right sided AN

Please visit http://anworld.com/

4cm in Pacific Northwest

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Re: Any experiences with Dr. Brackmann at House Ear in LA?
« Reply #17 on: May 25, 2009, 12:50:43 pm »
Know I had an XXL tumor and not a lot of treatment options. In responding here I do NOT know the size of your tumor or what your options are. If your tumor is smaller you have several options, which I would implore you to explore.

I was on my way to have the translab at House. I actually went there for a consult and found Dr. Brackman to be a very spry man and most personable. He was #1 on my list at that date…

That date…I had this VERY egocentric neurosurgeon in Oregon call me on my cell phone, as I was in a taxi leaving HEI, convince me that my tumor may not be an acoustic neuroma but most likely a meninginoma. He explained that that by having the translab I could be sacrificing my hearing for nothing. "Dr. Ego" of Oregon claimed my “hearing could be saved� with the retrosygmoid if it was not an AN tumor. SO then I went searching for surgeons who did the retrosygmoid with more experience than the Oregon surgeons (who I actually found he and his partner had malpractice suits on their files- when going to www.healthgrades.com- the California surgeons all had immaculate records and higher number of surgeries under their experience belts)

So we did the retrosygmoid in California … and yes it was an acoustic neuroma and not a menginoma. (Just as Dr. Brackmann predicted.) My hearing was lost and I came in that 2% higher risk and the facial nerve was also damaged.  (Just as Dr. Brackmann had warned me  :'( ) I did get 60 % movement regain in my face however now I have synkenisis and hyperacusis. :-\ :-[

If I was to turn the clock back  (which I can’t) I would do the translab with Dr. Brackmann @ House for an XXL sized tumor.

Even though the accommodations @ House are not as luxurious as Stanford (nor the hospital) know that all the nursing staff etc are very versed  @ HEI on what to look for with post- op complications with ACOUSTIC NEUROMA patients specifically. I was in a hospital with many other neurosurgery patients with various issues and when I had complications the staff was not as quick to indentify these- as I had hoped. It was also hard for my husband to be alone out-of-state while watching his wife in the condition she was- with no support. I think if we had stayed at Seton House @ HEI he would have found tremendous support from other fellow AN patient caregivers.

I literally have had to bend-over-backwards to get post-op care referrals (vestibular therapy, neuro-muscular facial retrain therapy etc) where other patients here on the forum, which went to HEI, have gotten their referrals immediately. HEI just does more AN tumors than any other institution (in the world) so there you get many experienced staff (including those running the facial monitor at the time of surgery. …Instead of so many students who are learning on the job)


My California surgeons did an excellent job of dissecting a massive and very vascular adhesive tumor. However my main surgeon is also a department chair, professor and an International public speaker. He seems to not be interested or have time to follow-up with me. He delegated much of the follow-up care to subordinates… that had me having to jump too many hoops to get referrals for therapy etc. Not only is it important that you seek an experienced surgeon (which mine actually is and Brackmann trained him years ago… they have even written texts together) ….but one who ALSO provides continuous follow-up care with their patients… even after the surgery. I know from support group meetings testimonies that Dr. Brackmann actually phones his out-of-state patients: to check up on them, see how they are doing, and to reminder them to do their follow up MRI’s.

You need to know that Dr. Hitzleberger, Dr. Brackmann’s old neurosurgery partner, is around age 79 and is retired now. Dr. Brackman is about age 72… but let-me-tell -you he is very spry and sharp as a whistle   8) … still doing successful surgeries. He now works with young Dr. Swartz (just a kid) as his partner neurosurgeon (who ironically was trained by “Dr. Egoâ€? in Oregon). I have heard very positive reports about Dr. Swartz –(and NO he does not have the ego problems his former Oregon trainer has -that phones people and makes wild claims such as “I can save your hearing!â€? .I actually have a recording of this on my voice mail - to which we burned onto a CD)

With Dr. Brackman you will get a very personable and capable man. My own surgeon, to which he trained, is also a very personable and capable man- just too busy to follow-up with his patient whose surgery outcome was less than perfect… (to which some days I think he is in denial of…  :-\)

Dr. Brackmann has many awards on his wall from Canada, Britain … and other countries.  If you have an opportunity to have him as a surgeon, before he too retires, - jump on it! Know that Dr. Brackmann has also received awards from the ANA (and NO the ANA does not endorse medical practioners) but I am, as a PATIENT postie, just letting you know this information. (You can always google "Dr. Derald Brackmann Awards") He also has committed much of his life to help patients… and he is one of the few I know of whose research is still trying to find "the cause" of AN tumors beside the already know genetics of NF2. (I make sure our corporate employee match donation goes to his research- specifically.)

So obviously you can see that even though Dr. Brackman was not my surgeon (he was on my interview list however) I think very highly of him and I know he has a fantastic reputation with his patients… because I personally keep hearing the testimonies from patients- first hand.

Trust me Dr. Brackmann is a gem!


Daisy Head Mazie


« Last Edit: May 25, 2009, 01:08:26 pm by 4cm in Pacific Northwest »
4cm Left, 08/22/07 R/S 11+ hr surgery Stanford U, Dr. Robert Jackler, Dr. Griffith Harsh, Canadian fellow Assist. Dr. Sumit Agrawal. SSD, 3/6 on HB facial scale, stick-on-eyeweight worked, 95% eye function@ 6 months. In neuromuscular facial retraining. Balance regained! Recent MRI -tumor receded!

4cm in Pacific Northwest

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Re: Any experiences with Dr. Brackmann at House Ear in LA?
« Reply #18 on: May 27, 2009, 11:28:58 am »
Here is his CV (resume) if you want to check it out.

http://www.houseearclinic.com/BrackmannDE_CV.htm


I see him as quite the ole "Acoustic Neuroma Guru"- myself. Trust me I did a lot of research and paid out for many reports. (Know that my own surgeon is also exceptionally good and reputable- the fact that he was a colleague of Dr. Brackmann was a big deciding factor for me.) I guess I was worried that if I had tumor re-growth, 5 years down the road, Dr. Brackmann might not be around for follow up with me. Very silly of me to think that and possibly I was truly guilty   :-[ of “age discriminationâ€?- at that time. If young Dr Swartz is also there at surgery... 5 years down the road you will have someone still versed on what happened during the surgery to consult with.

I really do not think his age should be a deterrent AT ALL ... Get Dr. Brackmann and his team to point a laser light at a spot on the wall - you will see for yourself he is steady.  (And any youngsters in the room that started their morning off with coffee - who might not be. LOL  :D I heard from one of his patients that he does this laser trick. This was the same patient who told me that Dr. Brackmann was really getting on his case about not going to his follow up MRI appointments. Good for Dr. “Bâ€?!)

I hope that when I am in my 70's I am still spry and professionally active as Dr. Brackmann. Trust me this man has done much for the advancement of the treatment of Acoustic Neuromas… yet remains humble and still providing service to others. Perhaps while you interview him you can pick his brain about the secrets to longevity:) That was one question I forgot to ask him- while I was at HEI.

When you meet him in person- trust me …you just can’t help but really like the guy.

I know I did - when I met him. :)

DHM




4cm Left, 08/22/07 R/S 11+ hr surgery Stanford U, Dr. Robert Jackler, Dr. Griffith Harsh, Canadian fellow Assist. Dr. Sumit Agrawal. SSD, 3/6 on HB facial scale, stick-on-eyeweight worked, 95% eye function@ 6 months. In neuromuscular facial retraining. Balance regained! Recent MRI -tumor receded!

Lilan

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Re: Any experiences with Dr. Brackmann at House Ear in LA?
« Reply #19 on: May 27, 2009, 02:34:42 pm »
I love the laser light trick! That is such a nice, humorous (yet effective) way to put one's concerns at rest!
Facial nerve hemangioma. Probable dx 7/2008 confirmed 4/2009. Combo middle fossa and translab to remove the blood vessel malformation and snip ruined hearing and balance nerves by Drs. House and Brackmann @ House 6/2009. Doing great!

chocolatetruffle

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Re: Any experiences with Dr. Brackmann at House Ear in LA?
« Reply #20 on: May 27, 2009, 10:14:38 pm »
what else can i add to the list???  i agree with everything within the thread about brackmann and house, and i want to add that brackmann is not afraid to go back on his decision either. when i did the initial phone consultation with him, he reviewed my MRI and good hearing results and determined that retrog. was the way to go for me.  However after the pre-op examination, he decided that translab will be a better option, and it was the right decision!! if we had gone with the retrog. path, they will not have completely remove all the tumor.  He got tons of experience and for a surgery this big, i look for surgeon who can quickly adapt to any "oops" situation.  Don't let his age fool you too, he is still sharp. Besides, he is not the only surgeon that day, he usually have a team, ie a nerosurgeon (schawtz), a fellow surgeon and internist.

Except for SSD, i don't have any facial weakness or balance issues. Despite who your surgeons are, everyone's recovery and complications are completely different - hope this helps and feel free to PM me if you have any questions. Good luck!!
chocolatetruffle


2.8 cm left AN
Translab @ House/St Vincent's 11/27/07
Drs. Brackmann, Schwartz, Wilkinson, Stefan

eab

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Re: Any experiences with Dr. Brackmann at House Ear in LA?
« Reply #21 on: June 20, 2009, 09:11:03 pm »
If surgery is your only option, Brackmann is THE guy to go to.  However, keep in mind that he is a surgeon and the only thing he will recommend is surgery.  There are other options out there regardless of your age - be sure to at least consider and talk to radiosurgeons as well.  I am still undecided between CK & GK, and still can't believe that there isn't a clear decision making process when it comes to this.

Good luck!
Beth
Left side AN 2.5x1.7x1.5cm, limited hearing loss, limited tin., good balance
GK 7/6/09 Hoag Hospital; MRIs at 2, 6 & 12 months show no change in tumor size - hearing etc. same as before GK.

jb11258

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Re: Any experiences with Dr. Brackmann at House Ear in LA?
« Reply #22 on: July 14, 2009, 02:08:04 pm »
Hi, I am new to this site. What a coincidence because I just got off the phone with his office. Anyway I had my surgery apr. 2005. I flew there from N.Y. We did tons of research before making final decision. As far as I am concerned he is the best. Like others have said he returns phonecalls very quickly which is surprising , considering how important and busy he is. The day before surgery, you have a full day of tests and i met with Hitselberger. Didnt meet with Brackman until morning of. Both are so nice and so down to earth. They tell you to go for nice dinner nite before surgeryDay of surgery you are admitted to St. Vincent  1st they shave whatever part of your head, then you go to op. room and put out. Worst part of whole ordeal is waking up. I was sooooo dizzy and sick. They cut your balance nerve if you have my surgery for AN 1st 24 hrs were the worst. But I woke with no facial drooping which was my main concern. Stayed in hosp for 4 days , then even though I had major balance issues, my husband and I spent the next 5 days siteseeing and shopping. The hospital is nice and the nurses are wonderful.I would totally recommend Dr. Brackman and his staff. I even went to top surgeons in N.Y. and they said DR. Brackman.  Please get back to me if any other questions

Kate B

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Re: Any experiences with Dr. Brackmann at House Ear in LA?
« Reply #23 on: July 14, 2009, 09:06:38 pm »
Hi, I am new to this site. What a coincidence because I just got off the phone with his office. Anyway I had my surgery apr. 2005. I flew there from N.Y. We did tons of research before making final decision. As far as I am concerned he is the best. Like others have said he returns phonecalls very quickly which is surprising , considering how important and busy he is. The day before surgery, you have a full day of tests and i met with Hitselberger. Didnt meet with Brackman until morning of. Both are so nice and so down to earth. They tell you to go for nice dinner nite before surgeryDay of surgery you are admitted to St. Vincent  1st they shave whatever part of your head, then you go to op. room and put out. Worst part of whole ordeal is waking up. I was sooooo dizzy and sick. They cut your balance nerve if you have my surgery for AN 1st 24 hrs were the worst. But I woke with no facial drooping which was my main concern. Stayed in hosp for 4 days , then even though I had major balance issues, my husband and I spent the next 5 days siteseeing and shopping. The hospital is nice and the nurses are wonderful.I would totally recommend Dr. Brackman and his staff. I even went to top surgeons in N.Y. and they said DR. Brackman.  Please get back to me if any other questions

It is amazing how similar almost all of the House Patient stories are regarding the surgery.  They really have it down to a science.

Kate
Kate
Middle Fossa Surgery
@ House Ear Institute with
Dr. Brackmann, Dr. Hitselberger
November 2001
1.5 right sided AN

Please visit http://anworld.com/

Patrick-OC

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Re: Any experiences with Dr. Brackmann at House Ear in LA?
« Reply #24 on: August 05, 2009, 08:42:18 am »
Dr. Brackmann did my surgery on June 30, 2009.
He was awesome to talk to and everyone there worked together like a well oiled machine.
Everyone from doctors, nurses, to the wonderful lady Rita who made sure all the insurance, etc. was taken care of before i ever got to LA - just everyone.
Can't say enough good things about my experience there.

Patrick
5mm Middle Fossa removal on 6/30/09
House Ear Clinic & St. Vincent's Hospital
Drs. Brackmann, Schwartz & Stefan

Lilan

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Re: Any experiences with Dr. Brackmann at House Ear in LA?
« Reply #25 on: August 05, 2009, 07:20:31 pm »
Patrick, I just missed you! :) as I had my surgery there on June 11. I agree with what you said -- top surgical skill and they make it easy for you. Since so many patients travel for care there, they do have it down to a science.

As for Dr. B specifically, I was very happy with him. I had a facial nerve hemangioma, so I had a lot of (valid) concern about saving my facial function. He and Dr. House did it. I found him very caring as well, and sympathetic to the surgery experience -- it may be "routine" for them, but he doesn't seem to have forgotten that it's not at all "routine" for the patient and their loved ones!

Facial nerve hemangioma. Probable dx 7/2008 confirmed 4/2009. Combo middle fossa and translab to remove the blood vessel malformation and snip ruined hearing and balance nerves by Drs. House and Brackmann @ House 6/2009. Doing great!

Patrick-OC

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Re: Any experiences with Dr. Brackmann at House Ear in LA?
« Reply #26 on: August 05, 2009, 10:51:39 pm »
Lilan,

I flew back home on July 10 so we were really close to meeting.
How did things work out for you?

I'm out of work until Aug. 24 and still dealing with "wonky head" as they say on this discussion forum.
My hope is to be independent of my cane by then. I have to be or they won't let me return to work so wish me luck.

Patrick
5mm Middle Fossa removal on 6/30/09
House Ear Clinic & St. Vincent's Hospital
Drs. Brackmann, Schwartz & Stefan

Patrick-OC

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Re: Any experiences with Dr. Brackmann at House Ear in LA?
« Reply #27 on: August 06, 2009, 08:44:42 am »
Oops! I read June but registered July. ;D

My PT kicked my butt again! It's worth it though. Things are getting better all the time.
5mm Middle Fossa removal on 6/30/09
House Ear Clinic & St. Vincent's Hospital
Drs. Brackmann, Schwartz & Stefan

Lilan

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Re: Any experiences with Dr. Brackmann at House Ear in LA?
« Reply #28 on: August 06, 2009, 01:37:19 pm »
Sounds like you are doing great!

I went back to work this week (kind of kicking and screaming  ;) -- I was worried about how it would go) and it's been surprisingly OK. I am taking tomorrow off, have PT in the morning and don't want to push through five-day weeks just yet!

Maybe the wonky head is staying around for you because your tumor was so small. I still have a bit of wonkiness that I'm hoping goes away, but I already feel better than I did before the surgery! I was dizzy for a whole year!

Great luck getting back to work! It does quickly make you feel more "normal" to be back in your normal swing of things.
Facial nerve hemangioma. Probable dx 7/2008 confirmed 4/2009. Combo middle fossa and translab to remove the blood vessel malformation and snip ruined hearing and balance nerves by Drs. House and Brackmann @ House 6/2009. Doing great!

4cm in Pacific Northwest

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Re: Any experiences with Dr. Brackmann at House Ear in LA?
« Reply #29 on: August 17, 2009, 02:21:56 pm »

I hope that when I am in my 70's I am still spry and professionally active as Dr. Brackmann. Trust me this man has done much for the advancement of the treatment of Acoustic Neuromas… yet remains humble and still providing service to others. Perhaps while you interview him you can pick his brain about the secrets to longevity.  :) That was one question I forgot to ask him- while I was at HEI.


I think that Dr. “B” addressed my question of “longevity” well, inadvertently, during his Symposium presentation… even though I never actually asked him the question.

He admitted that he loves what he does and has never worked a day in his life, as he does not view this as his “work”. What was evident to me was that this is his “passion” and he truly loves what he does. When I heard the words “divine intervention" used by him (often not a word accepted amongst the science community)- it was felt by me, personally hearing this, that this man was called to this vocation.

At the inter-denominational service during the Chicago ANA symposium  Sister Shirley Bell spoke of the “discernment” and when she finally met a surgeon (after what it sounds interviewing as many surgeons as I did) that her gut instinct told her “who” she would be with. (To date I do not know who her surgeon finally was.) The 5 senses are hearing, seeing, tasting, smelling and touching. Many will have various explanations of what they feel the 6th sense is… some will call this “discernment”, “gut feeling”… psychologists write papers on this… as do neuroscientists … theologians.

I once found this article very interesting
http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200007/is-there-sixth-sense

When I first viewed Virginia Fickel Ehr speaking on the ANA DVD (recently published) and I viewed her speaking and  listened to what she said, and watch her facial movements intently- I felt and instant connection with her. (Probably because we both have similar facial issues post op… but there was something more…) I had the pleasure of speaking with her at the symposium- this past week. She started the idea of the ANA from her kitchen table, as she knew that there needed to be support for Acoustic Neuroma patients- specifically. Once you start engaging in a conversation, with her, you hardly notice any facial movements as her beautiful  â€œcharacter and integrity” so exude when you speak with her. In the ballroom at the gala banquet, this past weekend, stood a small, fit and very spry older woman surrounded by a huge crowd offering her a standing ovation as she was acknowledged for the organization she spear headed and initiated. I look at her as another example of longevity. Her ability to pay it forward goes over and beyond.

I truly feel these people have the capability to move up, over and maybe even sometimes “around” obstacles and “keep moving forward”. I think that perhaps they had a calling to which they listened to and acted upon. There are people we meet that are just exceptionally gifted whether it is: academic skills, music, art, writing, surgical skills, compassion, or organizational skills.


There is much scientific data to examine to which at times, especially to us patients, can be totally overwhelming. Nevertheless to examine this with logic and scientific reasoning is VERY important. However there is a “gut feeling” part (that does not always come with scientific explanation) that is also important to listen to- in your decision-making.  Again this goes back to the vaguely defined 6th sense. Do not let yourself be psychologically manipulated – especially when you are vulnerable or naive of all the options that are available.

I truly feel that the 3 people I mentioned above where “called” specifically to help people with acoustic neuroma treatment and follow up care. Currently I think that the secret to longevity is to listen to your calling when you are asked to serve others -and to keep active the gifts you have. Doing so humbly and without self-edification.

The neurosurgeon (NOT the one who did my surgery) that claimed my “hearing could be saved” gave me a bad “gut feeling” and that is why I did further investigations... and kept looking.

There are many other gifted surgeons out there …  the trick is to discern who are the honest sincere and capable ones and who are the wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing offering misconstrued statistical data to make a medical contract with you. This is truly a very personal decision that you will need to take time to reflect upon.  I know that my surgeons did an amazing job of tumor dissection… but it is not just the surgeon that is in the equation of your care- it is the “team approach”.  Your neurtologist will be just only one of the many team members that get you back to the best recovery possible.

Go with not just your gut instinct about the surgeon but also with the follow up care “team” that presents itself to you… be it where you go to for the surgery or where you go home to for follow-up care. Will your surgeon, or someone from the team, he/she leads, continue to advocate on your behalf if you have complications … months or years down the road?

DHM

« Last Edit: August 17, 2009, 09:44:16 pm by 4cm in Pacific Northwest »
4cm Left, 08/22/07 R/S 11+ hr surgery Stanford U, Dr. Robert Jackler, Dr. Griffith Harsh, Canadian fellow Assist. Dr. Sumit Agrawal. SSD, 3/6 on HB facial scale, stick-on-eyeweight worked, 95% eye function@ 6 months. In neuromuscular facial retraining. Balance regained! Recent MRI -tumor receded!

 


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