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August 10, 2010

Utah Mom of Five Comes Through Brain Surgery with Her Hearing and Her Smile

Los Angeles – Wendy Warr of Woodland Hills, Utah celebrated her 41st birthday recently with a big smile. She underwent brain surgery at St. Vincent Medical Center in Los Angeles on July 23 using a new tumor removal device in the skilled hands of neurosurgeon Marc Schwartz, MD, of House Neurosurgical Associates, and neurotologist Rick Friedman, MD, of House Clinic.

“As soon as I woke up from the surgery, the dread was over,” Warr said. “They asked me to smile and I could hear them. I could smile. I could feel it,” she said. Before Warr decided to go to Los Angeles for the removal of an acoustic neuroma, a noncancerous (benign) slow growing tumor in her inner ear, she consulted surgeons in Utah who warned her about possible post-surgical hearing loss and facial droop.

Warr went online in search of a second opinion and found the House Clinic and Dr. Schwartz, a respected expert in the removal of acoustic neuromas. Dr. Schwartz uses a new minimally invasive tool called the NICO Myriad, the first automated and non-heat-producing tumor removal device that uses a patented variable aspiration technique to “vacuum” tissue as it carefully cuts and saves it to a collection chamber for laboratory evaluation.

“With the Myriad, I’m able to remove tumors resting very close to critical structures, such as the facial and cochlear nerves, through the smallest of openings,” said Dr. Schwartz. “It has allowed me to increase the success of function-preserving surgery and to confidently attack larger tumors through small exposures. This offers much better opportunities for faster and easier recovery times for the patient because surgery time is reduced and there is less trauma during the procedure.” Dr. Schwartz performs approximately 200 surgical removals of acoustic neuromas annually.

St. Vincent Medical Center is the first hospital in Los Angeles to purchase the new minimally invasive neurosurgical medical device, which offers a high degree of surgical precision and opportunities for significantly reducing operating room time. Fewer hours in surgery can help avoid surgeon fatigue and minimize the number of hours a patient needs to be anaesthetized, reducing overall risk, recovery time, and procedure costs. The Myriad device’s slender design and malleable tip allows for superior control in cases requiring delicate tissue shaving or rapid tumor removal, all through foot pedal operation controlled by the physician and without multiple insertions of different devices. The device’s unique aspiration technology minimizes the potential to pull or draw in unwanted surrounding tissue to the cutting area, which could cause unnecessary and sometimes dangerous trauma to the brain.

Warr came home to Utah last week after a week away from her five children, two daughters and three sons. Her husband, eldest daughter and mother traveled with her to Los Angeles as added support during the surgery and brief recovery time. Warr sings, dances and choreographs and is active in church and volunteer activities in the Woodland Hills area. For more information about St. Vincent Medical Center or the NICO Myriad system, visit or

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