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29-year-old with Tumor in Brain Stem Successfully Undergoes Rarely Performed Surgery

Robert Volaski, 29, has successfully undergone a form of brain surgery so rare and so delicate that most surgeons won’t even attempt it. He was suffering from an Atypical Toratoid Rhabdoid Tumor (ATRT) located in his brain stem. Such tumors are extremely rare and typically found in children under 3 and even more rare in adults. Tragically, the prognosis is very poor. Brain surgeon Martin Mortazavi, M.D., founder and medical director of the California Institute of Neuroscience in Thousand Oaks, says that most neurosurgeons won’t even attempt to remove the tumor because it is located in such a precarious position.
“Robert’s tumor was in the part of the brain stem that controls movement, balance and posture,” said Mortazavi. “The brain stem also controls breathing, heart rate as well as the nerves and muscles necessary to control such functions as walking, talking and eating. So there was a lot at stake when deciding whether or not to move forward with surgery.”
Added his colleague Dr. Sean Xin, “Robert is a relatively young man who is motivated to get this chapter of his life behind him and, with the support of his family, he is now on the road to recovery.”
Mortazavi says that Volaski had previously undergone brain surgery by specialists affiliated with a major university and when the symptoms he had been exhibiting before that surgery (i.e., weakness of his left side, sensory deficit and gaze difficulty) only grew worse, he was referred to the California Institute of Neuroscience, one of the only medical practices in the world that accepts extremely difficult cases.
“In May, we located a bleeding tumor that I successfully removed and Robert recovered nicely” he continued. “Unfortunately, a new tumor was discovered in another part of his brain – in the brain stem itself – and it was necessary for him to have it removed so he could get back on his feet again. So yesterday we created an opening behind his ear and removed the tumor. Not long after surgery, he was awake and talking to his family.”
“I can’t tell you how grateful we are to Dr. Mortazavi and the entire team at the California Institute of Neuroscience,” said Mary Volaski, Robert’s mother. “Although we have a challenging road ahead of us, we feel confident in his full recovery. What better Christmas gift can we receive than having our Robert back.”
Under the direction of Mortazavi, California Institute of Neuroscience has earned a stellar reputation in the prevention, diagnosis, surgical treatment and post-surgical aspects of a range of disorders affecting the brain, spinal cord, peripheral nerves and cerebrovascular disease. The team, who are experts at treating aneurysms, AVM, skull base tumors such as pituitary tumors, acoustic neuromas, and meningiomas, trigeminal neuralgia, and any other medical condition related to the brain and spine, employ the safest and latest technology to give patients a new lease on life.
Among the areas of specialty: neurology, neurosurgery, psychology, psychiatry, cranial maxillofacial plastic surgery, ENT, spine/peripheral neurosurgery and neuro-ophthalmology. These comprehensive services offer the patient a holistic approach to care not commonly found in typical neurosurgical practices. Visit or call (805) 795-7656.

Contact Information

  • Name: Frank Groff

    Company: FGI PR

    Telphone: 562-491-1000 , -

    Address: California Institute of Neuroscience
    2100 Lynn Road
    Thousand Oaks
    CA 91360