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Hoag the First in Orange County to Specialize in Pituitary Tumors

Categories: Press Room
NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. – September 4, 2014 – Pickup Family Neurosciences Institute and Hoag Family Cancer Institute today announced they have recruited Robert G. Louis, M.D., from the John Wayne Cancer Institute in Santa Monica to become the only fellowship trained skull-base and pituitary specialist in Orange County. Dr. Louis is being named Program Advisor to Hoag’s Pituitary Program.

Trained in skull-base and minimally invasive brain tumor surgery, Dr. Louis will complement Hoag’s accomplished neuroscience and cancer teams by lending his expertise in a highly specialized field.

“If you have been diagnosed with a pituitary tumor, it is important to be treated by a physician who specializes in these complex disorders,” Dr. Louis said. “I look forward to joining the Hoag team in delivering the most advanced treatment for pituitary tumors.”

The pituitary gland is the size of a pea – but its importance is enormous. Located at the base of the brain, the “master gland,” creates a laundry list of hormones and regulates the activities of other endocrine glands. A tumor on this tiny gland can cause problems as severe as diabetes, vision problems and gigantism.

While pituitary tumors occur in up to 20% of people, tumors requiring treatment occur less frequently and often are not diagnosed. When they are diagnosed, these tumors require expert care. The importance of a trained specialist cannot be overstated, the neurosurgeon said.

“The pituitary gland is delicate and can be damaged during surgery. It is therefore essential that surgery be done by a neurosurgeon with a high degree of training,” said Michael Brant-Zawadzki, M.D., F.A.C.R, The Ron and Sandi Simon Endowed Chair, Executive Medical Director, Hoag Neurosciences Institute. “We are looking forward to working with Dr. Louis and offering his level of expertise to our patients.”

The son of two teachers from suburban Boston, Dr. Louis said he hopes to offer talks to primary care physicians in Orange County to help educate them about pituitary disorders that often go unrecognized and undiagnosed.

Some patients who are experiencing hypertension, low thyroid, diabetes and a host of other ailments may be suffering from a pituitary tumor that is either suppressing the gland, compressing the surrounding brain tissue or causing an over-secretion of a particular hormone. In many cases, a simple blood test can rule out – or uncover – the presence of a pituitary tumor. But physicians don’t always remember that such tests are in their tool kit .
“Functional tumors are often misdiagnosed,” Dr. Louis said. “Even the best physicians and specialists can miss them because pituitary tumors make up such a small percentage of what they see.”

Dr. Louis completed his residency training in neurological surgery at the University of Virginia, one of the top centers for pituitary tumors in the world. During his six years at UVA, he completed more than 1,200 cases, including complex brain tumor, skull base and pituitary surgery.

After completing his Chief Residency in neurosurgery, Dr. Louis went on to more advanced subspecialty training, completing a fellowship in Minimally Invasive Neurosurgery at the John Wayne Cancer Institute. Dr. Louis is one of only a handful of fellowship-trained minimally invasive neurosurgeons in the nation and the only one in Orange County with this distinction. He describes treating functional tumors as “really rewarding.”

“We’ll see people who have been suffering from undiagnosed tumors for 8 or 9 years, they’ve gained 100 pounds, they’ve lost muscle, bone,” Dr. Louis said. “We take out a tumor that is 3 millimeters in diameter, and all of a sudden they’re living a normal life.”

In addition to his expertise, Dr. Louis is bringing new minimally invasive brain surgery technology to Orange County, including a Neuro Doppler, which uses sound waves to measure the velocity of blood flow through the arteries of the brain – a vital tool for determining how to approach tumor removal. He is also bringing the NICO BrainPath technology, which combines a GPS system in the brain with a minimal access port to give neurosurgeons the ability to move through the natural folds of the brain safely and precisely when performing minimally invasive neurosurgery. Dr. Louis said he hopes to inspire donors to fund additional equipment to improve patient outcomes.

“Most brain and skull base tumors can be resected through small openings or by using naturally occurring orifices,” Dr. Louis said. “This approach decreases post-operative pain, minimizes neurologic complications and shortens length of hospitalization.”

Dr. Louis is a member of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS), Congress of Neurological Surgeons (CNS), North American Skull Base Society (NASBS), Foundation for International Education in Neurosurgery (FIENS) and the American Association of Clinical Anatomists (AACA). He leads multidisciplinary neurosurgical teams on relief efforts to Tanzania, and was recognized for his efforts in 2011 with the prestigious American Association of Neurological Surgeons YNC Public Service Citation for outstanding humanitarian relief efforts in Africa.

About Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian
Hoag is an approximately $1 billion nonprofit, regional health care delivery network in Orange County, California, that treats more than 24,000 inpatients and 362,000 outpatients annually. Hoag consists of two acute-care hospitals, six health centers, and six urgent care centers. Hoag Hospital Newport Beach, which has served Orange County since 1952, and Hoag Hospital Irvine, which opened in 2010, are designated Magnet hospitals by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). Hoag offers a comprehensive blend of health care services that includes five institutes providing specialized services in the following areas: cancer, heart and vascular, neurosciences, women’s health, and orthopedics through Hoag’s affiliate, Hoag Orthopedic Institute. In 2013, Hoag entered into an alliance with St. Joseph Health to further expand health care services in the Orange County community, known as St. Joseph Hoag Health. Hoag has been named one of the Best Regional Hospitals in the U.S. News & World Report Metro Edition. National Research Corporation has endorsed Hoag as Orange County’s most preferred hospital for the past 18 consecutive years and, for an unprecedented 18 years, residents of Orange County have chosen Hoag as the county’s best hospital in a local newspaper survey. Visit www.hoag.org for more information.