Skull Base Surgery
Skull base surgery is a highly specialized, minimally invasive surgical technique for evaluating, diagnosing and treating benign or cancerous growths located on the underside of the brain, the base of the skull and the upper vertebrae of the spinal column. It can also be advantageous in repairing congenital anomalies and malformations.
Skull base surgeons use special instruments inserted through the skull’s natural openings (e.g., nose, mouth and above the eyes) to operate rather than accessing the brain through a craniotomy (surgical opening of the skull). Prior to the development of skull base surgery it was necessary to remove relatively large portions of the skull and/or facial musculature in order to gain entry into these areas. The benefits of skull base surgery include less risk of infection and damage to cerebral structures and nerves, less risk of disfigurement and a shorter recovery time.
What conditions can be treated using skull base surgery?
A partial list of conditions that may be treated using skull base surgery includes:
- Pituitary tumors
- Trigeminal neuralgia
- Vestibulocochlear nerve disorders
- Hemifacial spasms
- Cerebro-spinal fluid fistulas
- Cerebral aneurysms
- Arteriovenous Malformations (AVMs)
Types of skull base surgery
Endoscopic or minimally-invasive skull base surgery. This type of surgery usually does not require a large incision. A surgeon may make a small opening inside the nose to allow a neurosurgeon to remove a growth through a thin lighted tube called an endoscope. An MRI is a type of picture taken of the skull base using magnets and a computer and may be done by a radiology specialist while the surgical specialists are operating to help them make sure all of the growth has been removed.
Traditional or open skull base surgery. This type of surgery may require incisions in the facial area and in the skull. Parts of bone may need to be removed so that the growth can be reached and removed. An operating room microscope is often used for this type of surgery.