Skull base surgeries are typically conducted to remove benign and cancerous growths as well as abnormalities on the underside of the brain, the skull base or the top few vertebrae. They can be performed endoscopically through the mouth, nose or ear in some cases and are also sometimes used to remove acoustic neuromas and cholesteatomas of the ear.
Types of Skull Base Tumors
A number of different types of tumors can form in the skull base. The location can influence not only the type of tumor and its growth rate, but also the corresponding treatment.
Most skull base tumors form in one of three areas. The anterior compartment of the skull base, which houses the eye sockets and sinuses, is prone to meningioma, olfactory neuroblastoma and paranasal sinus cancer. The central compartment, home to the pituitary gland, sees pituitary adenomas, craniopharyngioma and Rathke’s cleft cyst. The posterior compartment sees acoustic neuromas, chondrosarcoma, chordoma and meningioma.
The prognosis for each of these tumors differs. Some are benign and cause few problems, while others are malignant and may spread quickly.
While exact symptoms vary based on the tumor type, in general patients may experience any of the following signs: headaches, breathing difficulty, blurry vision, trouble swallowing, loss of smell, hearing loss, nausea, vomiting, dizziness and memory loss.
Diagnosing & Treating Skull Base Tumors
In order to diagnose tumors of the skull base, the physician will rely on a physical exam, a neurological exam and imaging studies. These might include CT scan, MRI, bone scan and positron emission tomography (PET) scan.
Options to treat skull base tumors may include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy or a combination of treatments.
Due to the sensitive location, minimally invasive surgical procedures are preferred when possible.
Call Camino Ear, Nose & Throat Clinic at (408) 227-6300 for more information or to schedule an appointment.