Surgery is a common treatment for patients with skull base tumors. Surgery may be used alone or in combination with chemotherapy and radiation therapy depending on the type of tumor and the patient's treatment goals.
Skull base tumor surgeries can be challenging because of the difficulty in which important neuro-vascular structures in the head and neck are clustered together. In the past, skull base tumors were treated with conventional approaches that would entail large openings in the skull and significant bone removal. There have been many advances in surgical techniques and technology that now allow neurosurgeons to safely perform skull base tumor surgery through minimally invasive approaches. Two of these types of minimally-invasive surgeries include:
- Keyhole surgery involves tumor surgery through a small and precise bone opening in the skull that minimizes damage to the surrounding scalp, muscle, and most importantly, brain tissue.
- Endoscopic endonasal surgery or approach is an innovative surgical technique that uses the nostrils and nasal sinuses as natural corridors to remove skull base tumors utilizing a high-definition surgical telescope. This type of surgery allows safe tumor resection without incisions in the face or scalp while minimizing brain tissue retraction and manipulation.
Minimally invasive approaches are not suited for all types of tumors and skull base locations. Depending on tumor type and location, an open conventional surgery may still be the best approach to achieve the treatment goals. As a high-volume cancer center, we see many brain tumor and spinal tumor patients – some with very rare and difficult-to-treat tumors – and our neurosurgeons perform a high number of complex brain cancer procedures. As a result, our neurosurgeons’ experience is extensive, and their skills are highly refined, which can make all the difference in beating brain tumors and spinal tumors and offering a better quality of life.
Medically reviewed by Andre Beer Furlan, MD, PhD, skull base and endovascular neurosurgeon.