Dr. William White Takes Pride in Barrow Pituitary Program
Because a major focus of the program is patient education, Barrow is hosting a symposium on Saturday, May 14 for people who are living with pituitary disorders.
Dr. White and other Barrow and guest faculty will discuss the anatomy of the pituitary gland, the diagnosis and treatment of pituitary disorders, and how to manage the emotional and physical effects of these disorders.
Attendees will also hear from two people who have been diagnosed with and treated for pituitary disorders after years of struggling with symptoms.
“Pituitary Education Day is designed to help patients understand the complexity of the master hormone gland and the methods of treatment available for pituitary disorders,” Dr. White said.
He became interested in both neurosurgery and endocrinology – the study of hormones – while in medical school in Kansas, his home state and where his family still owns a farm.
“Neurosurgery appeared to be a field that was going to have a tremendous amount of innovation in the future,” he said. “I was enthusiastic that I would not get bored and there would always be something interesting. That certainly proved to be true.”
An innovative procedure he found particularly interesting at the start of his career was transsphenoidal surgery for pituitary tumors, which involves removing the tumor through the nose rather than an opening in the skull.
When Dr. White was a resident at Barrow, craniotomy was the only approach used to remove pituitary tumors. He learned the transsphenoidal technique from a neurosurgeon in San Diego while serving in the Navy and practiced it in a cadaver lab.
“When I returned to Phoenix and Barrow, I performed the first two transsphenoidal procedures and had the neurosurgeon from San Diego come over to assist me with those cases,” he said. “That’s how we brought transsphenoidal surgery to Barrow.”
This technique is now used for most pituitary tumor surgeries. Dr. White said he and Neurosurgeon Dr. Andrew Little each perform about 100 transsphenoidal surgeries per year.
“I’m proud of bringing Dr. Little into the program and the success that he has had, not only from a patient care and surgical standpoint but also research and academic progress,” he said. “Dr. Little has significantly increased our laboratory and clinical research, which has resulted in multiple publications.”
The Barrow Pituitary Program also relies on specialists in endocrinology, neurology, neuropathology, neuropsychology, neuro-otology, and radiation oncology, as well as nursing and clinical support staff.
Dr. White also works with neurosurgery residents, which he said is one of the things he enjoys most about working at Barrow. He also likes the challenge of seeing a variety of neurological disorders.
“We’re on the cutting edge of everything,” he said. “There is always something new to do and new to learn.”
When Dr. White is not teaching future neurosurgeons or treating patients, he enjoys spending time with his four kids and 12 grandkids, driving his Polaris RZR off-road vehicle and his Chevrolet Corvette Z06, and training and competing with his bird-pointing dogs named Gracie and Pumpkin.
Pituitary Education Day will be held from 7:30 AM to 5:00 PM on Saturday, May 14 in the Goldman Auditorium at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center at 350 W. Thomas Rd. in Phoenix.