Author Topic: House Clinic Surgeons- recent experiences?  (Read 9380 times)


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House Clinic Surgeons- recent experiences?
« on: February 22, 2011, 09:09:56 pm »
Hello everyone!  I am 29 years old and I live in Indiana.  I found out that I have an approximately 1.5 centimeter AN on January 24th.  We have been researching for almost a month now, and I believe I have decided that House is the place to have my surgery.  I originally spoke with Dr. Wilkinson and he seemed fantastic.  But he does have less experience than Dr. Brackman and Dr. Friedman, so I was hoping that I could get some feedback from recent patients.  Let me say that I am TERRIFIED of facial paralysis.  I have come to terms with losing my hearing on my left side, but I just can't come to terms with the possibility of facial paralysis.  I am really nervous and I just want to get this surgery scheduled and over with.  Any help would be appreciated!  Thanks in advance.

Brandy Wade
« Last Edit: February 24, 2011, 04:38:13 am by ppearl214 »


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Re: House Clinic Surgeons- recent experiences?
« Reply #1 on: February 22, 2011, 09:59:26 pm »
Dear Brandy,

I live in New Jersey and had acoustic neuroma surgery at House in January 2008. I would go there again in a heartbeat.

 Dr. House was my surgeon and Dr. Wilkinson was a Fellow at the Clinic who assisted (Dr. Schwartz was the neurosurgeon who also participated in the surgery). I believe that Dr. Wilkinson joined the permanent staff very shortly thereafter. I found him to be excellent -- very professional and compassionate, as was the entire staff.  I think it's safe to say that a House Clinic Fellow who is hired on as a permanent surgeon at the clinic is among the best of the best. I recall that he had an impressive CV -- he already had a great deal of experience prior to becoming a House Fellow (not just out of med school by any means). That being said, he is not as experienced as either Dr. Brackman or Dr. Friedman, as you've mentioned.

Best wishes as you proceed on your acoustic neuroma journey. You will be in good hands at House.

Catherine (JerseyGirl 2)
Translab surgery and BAHA implant: House Ear Institute, Los Angeles, 1/2008
Drs. J. House, Schwartz, Wilkinson, and Stefan
BAHA Intenso, 6/2008
no facial, balance, or vision problems either before or after surgery ... just hearing loss
Monmouth County, NJ


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Re: House Clinic Surgeons- recent experiences?
« Reply #2 on: February 23, 2011, 07:54:01 am »
Hi, Brandy, welcome!  I agreee w/ Catherine (JerseyGirl2), anyone at House would be excellent.  They all have extensive AN do the folks over at St. Vincent's where your surgery would be done.  I originally spoke w/ Dr. House about my case, but a week or so later talked w/ Dr. Friedman and just "clicked" better w/ him, so I had him do my surgery 2 years ago.  I ended up choosing Translab, thus sacrificing my hearing (which was perfect at the time) to ensure he had the best look at my facial nerve.  However, there are many success stories from the other types of surgeries also...I just had a "feeling" my AN was going to be tough to get out, though it was relatively small (1.5cm).  Turned out it was and Dr. Friedman and I were both glad we went the Translab route.

Best to you in your journey,

rt side 1.5 cm - Translab on 11/07/08 Dr. Friedman & Dr. Schwartz of House Ear Institute,
feeling great!

"Life consists not in holding good cards, but in playing well those you do hold."  Josh Billings


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Re: House Clinic Surgeons- recent experiences?
« Reply #3 on: February 23, 2011, 09:34:53 am »
Hi Brandy, I understand completely your feelings - do not be shy about requesting the best and most experienced surgeons at House for your surgery.  I also was quite frightened of facial paralysis and this was probably the biggest reason that I chose cyberknife over surgery.  there are many pros and cons in both directions and the best way through is to do your research and consultations, speak to several doctors, and make a personal decision that feels right for you. You can read my own story at the website below.  I wish you the best, Francesco


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Re: House Clinic Surgeons- recent experiences?
« Reply #4 on: February 23, 2011, 01:56:20 pm »
Hi Brandy,

I just had retrosig surgery at House with Dr. Friedman and Dr. Schwartz on Jan. 12th (6 weeks ago). I can't say enough good things about them or the staff (at House and St. Vincents).  Dr. Friedman gave me my choice of Translab or retrosig, stating that translab would probably have a little easier recovery, but if I wanted to try to save my hearing, he would do retrosig (although he only gave me a 40% chance of saving it).  I did end up losing my hearing, but at 6 weeks post-op, I am feeling great, for the most part.  I am so happy I chose House and Dr. Friedman.  He will actually be doing my BAHA surgery as well, hopefully next month. 

I also know someone who will be having surgery with Dr. Brackman tomorrow, and she feels completely confident with him.  The most important thing is to find a doctor you have total confidence in. Research is the key here. :)

Good luck in your new journey!

Diagnosed with AN on left side 11/5/10. The              
approximate dimensions are 14 mm AP x 18 mm TR x 15 mm CC.
Retrosig surgery w/ Dr. Friedman/Dr. Schwartz at HEI on 1/12/11. Entire tumor removed with no facial weakness.
BAHA surgery 3/29/11

Jim Scott

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Re: House Clinic Surgeons- recent experiences?
« Reply #5 on: February 23, 2011, 04:08:12 pm »
Hi, Brandy and welcome to the ANA discussion forums.  Of course I'm sorry that you were diagnosed with an acoustic neuroma but I'm glad you discovered the ANA website and decided to register and post your questions.

I did not have my AN surgery at HEI and so I cannot comment on Dr. Wilkinson but, as you know, 'House' is renowned for their collective expertise in AN procedures so you're on the right track. 

Following my AN diagnosis, I had feelings similar to yours about facial paralysis.  Fortunately, I found a neurosurgeon with decades of AN surgical experience that shared my concerns.  He devised a plan to minimize the chances for facial paralysis by debulking the tumor (a 9-hour operation using two neurosurgeons) then, after a 90-day 'rest period', having me undergo fractionated radiation (FSR) over a 5-week period totaling 26 'sessions'.  My surgery went well - no complications - and I recovered relatively quickly.  The radiation was uneventful (no ill effects).  Later MRI scans showed it had proved successful.  I consider myself blessed but I'm not an anomaly.  Many AN surgical patients have similar outcomes.  Many post on these forums.   

My best advice is to do your research and choose a doctor you can feel totally confident about.  This will make the decisions easier and you'll be less anxious facing the surgery.  Well, that worked for me.  :)

By the way: your web page is terrific.  Kudos to you and Logan for your decision to adopt an Ethiopian baby girl.  :)

4.5 cm AN diagnosed 5/06.  Retrosigmoid surgery 6/06.  Follow-up FSR completed 10/06.  Tumor shrinkage & necrosis noted on last MRI.  Life is good. 

Life is not the way it's supposed to be. It's the way it is.  The way we cope with it is what makes the difference.


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Re: House Clinic Surgeons- recent experiences?
« Reply #6 on: February 23, 2011, 07:18:38 pm »
Dear Brandy,
    I think the House is the top dog, had my 3.7 cm AN removed there October 2009, no facial problems.  In fact I went to a follow up MRI today and while there the nurse who knows me, but didn't know I had a AN removed, commented " you are the picture of health, why do you need a head MRI?". She was shocked when I told her my reason  :) I live in Wyoming and the travel to CA was definitely worth it , in my opinion!
Left AN 3.7 cm. 10-23-09 
HEI Dr. Friedman, Dr. Schwartz
Doing well


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Re: House Clinic Surgeons- recent experiences?
« Reply #7 on: February 24, 2011, 10:48:54 am »

I had my AN taken out in June of 2010.  I was 29 at the time and pregnant.  My surgeon was Dr Friedman.  He is both an amazing man and surgeon.  I travelled from Wisconsin to have him remove my 4+ cm tumor.  I had severe symptoms and was a big mess!  Recovery has been a long road, but I am doing well and doing better with each passing month.  I have full facial function! 

While I was in LA I met some of Dr Wilkinson's patients.  Please know that his patients loved him.  However, I understand the anxiety about choosing the right surgeon...even picking from one of the HEI docs.  I was originally a patient of Dr Brackmann and switched to Dr Friedman.  Both extremely skilled doctors...I mean Dr Brackman is one of the most published docs on AN!!!  It was just something about how I connected with Dr Friedman that made me change course.  So go with your gut instinct.  You aren't crazy for how you are feeling.  My best advice is to make the decision that makes you feel most comfortable and then let the worry go.  Another AN patient told me once that once I picked the surgeon I needed to let the surgeon do the worrying for me.

You can check out my story on the 65 faces of House campaign  look under Siwek Family

Please reach out to me if you want to talk!  I am very open and would be happy to talk you and try to ease your anxiety!

Best of luck!

Translab 6/4/10 for 4+ cm left AN.  Drs Friedman and Schwartz at HEI saved my life!
BAHA surgery on 10/7/10 with Dr Battista of Chicago Ear Institute (Oticon Ponto Pro)


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Re: House Clinic Surgeons- recent experiences?
« Reply #8 on: February 24, 2011, 12:27:46 pm »
Wow!  Thank you all so much!  It sounds like Dr. Friedman is good choice.  Thank you all so much for all of your input.  It is so helpful and calming to me to hear from so many people who have had positive outcomes.  Thank you!!


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Re: House Clinic Surgeons- recent experiences?
« Reply #9 on: February 24, 2011, 12:35:24 pm »
Kris- I just realized that I actually read your story a while back!  I found it online somewhere when I was doing a google search.  How crazy.  Your story is really inspirational.  That just gives me even more confidence in Dr. Friedman! 



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Re: House Clinic Surgeons- recent experiences?
« Reply #10 on: February 27, 2011, 05:43:01 pm »
I just sent a reply to penpencil, please read it. Yes, definitely House
2.5cm x2.0cm cerebellapontine angle meningioma. 100% removal 2/2009. House Ear Institute. Dr Brackmann and Dr. Schwartz. SSD right ear. No balance problems except when really tired, no headaches. Transear hearing aide made no difference, tried it for 4 months.


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Re: House Clinic Surgeons- recent experiences?
« Reply #11 on: February 27, 2011, 10:14:44 pm »
Hi Brandy!! Sorry you had to find our little club, but you'll find no friendlier place!  I am a House Alumni under Dr. Brackmann, and I have nothing but great things to say about the total care I received.  I am about a year post op now and I am doing great! Any questions you may have will be answered with utmost patience by those guys.  If you have anything  specific about my experiences there, don't hesitate to ask.  A while back I wrote a long diary of sorts about my experiences at House, and it has a lot of good useful stuff in it so you'll kind of know what to expect once you go in.  Let me know and I can send it to you!!  Good luck and take care!
8.1mm x 7.8mm x 8.2mm AN, Left Ear, Middle Fossa surgery performed on 12/9/09 at House by Drs. Brackmann/Schwartz. Some hearing left, but got BAHA 2/25/11 (Ponto Pro) To see how I did through my Middle Fossa surgery, click here:


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Re: House Clinic Surgeons- recent experiences?
« Reply #12 on: March 03, 2011, 07:38:10 pm »
I had Drs. Slattery & Schwartz in 2007 at the House Clinic.   Plus, Dr. Stefan is the internal medicine doc affiliated with House that does the pre-surgery physical and post-surgery checkups too.   When you go to House Clinic, your two surgeons, Dr. Stefan, and a doctor on fellowship will be taking care of you.   


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Re: House Clinic Surgeons- recent experiences?
« Reply #13 on: March 08, 2011, 05:44:57 pm »
Hi Brandy,

Well, I wanted to reply because I am probably one of the most recent House Ear Clinic patients.  My surgery was Feb. 24, 2011 - just 12 days ago.  I am resting at home now and healing.  My experience was also amazing.  I went with Dr Brackman, mainly because I had a friend's recommendation, who had experienced this unique AN experience in 1997 who had seen Brackman.  I also felt very comfortable with him.  Brackman and Schwarz were my surgeons. 

Everything went as planned but I did have a "sticky" tumor that was stuck to my facial nerve.  They ended up having to leave a "scrap" of it on the facial nerve because they didn't want to do any extra damage to that nerve.  It makes me happy that they made this decision actually.  Facial paralysis is frightening.  I have had some facial "weakness", but it seems to be coming back to normal now.  I felt like they made the decision that I would have made - had I been able to voice my opinion. 

My balance has not been as bad as I thought it might be.  It is just a slow process getting your bearings and practicing.  You can be improving steadily - and all of a sudden get over tired and you feel like you take a few steps backward in progress. 

Since I had tinitis before the surgery - I now have this constant rushing air/water like sound in my AN ear. This does not happen to everyone but it can be a side effect.  Right now I am trying to get used to this sound and still be able to hear where sounds are coming from.  We are not sure whether I lost hearing in my AN side.  I do not believe I have any hearing at all there - but it will not be tested until 2 months after surgery to be sure.

All in all - I feel that the House Ear Clinic was incredible and I received the best possible care.  I know you would not be disappointed with whomever you chose there.  They all have considerable more experience than many others just because they do so many surgeries every year. 

Good Luck!!

Surgery at HEI Feb. 2011.  Only partial removal was accomplished.  Mar 2012 annual MRI shows tumor growing back - almost same original size!


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Re: House Clinic Surgeons- recent experiences?
« Reply #14 on: March 16, 2011, 10:40:33 pm »
Hi Brandy,

I did not see your post until tonight, so may be too late, but I am wondering if you know about the doctors in Cincinnati at the Mayfield Clinic. They are hosting the ANA Symposium in June. Dr. Theodosopolous and Dr. Pensak are known in the area as the best around. I live in Seattle, but am from Cincinnati and have family there, so will have surgery with them when I need to. Since mine is small I am W and W. Remember that there are many, many folks who are not on the forum, from all over the country, who have successful surgery.

It is a big decision, and good luck to you!

Feb. 2010    4 x 8 x 5mm
June 2011   4.7 x 8.9 x 4.0mm
May 2012    4.5 x 9.1 x 3.9mm
Sept. 2013   5 x 10.1 x 5mm
Feb. 2015     6 x 13 x 5 mm
In IAC near cochlea
Mild hearing loss, tinnitus
W & W, thinking about treatment