Lateral Skull Base Surgery
Tumors that develop in the areas at the sides of the skull base can be very difficult to access. These tumors often can compress various, critical cranial nerves, even the brain stem. This can result in varying degrees of disability.
What is the skull base?
The skull base is basically the floor on which the brain rests. It separates the brain from other facial structures. It is an uneven bone surface through which all kinds of important things — nerves, the spinal cord, major blood vessels to the brain — pass. The skull base is divided into three regions: the anterior, middle, and posterior.
How do you access the sides of the skull base?
There are different places that can be used to access lesions on the sides and rear of the skull base. You can go through the back of the skull or through the temporal bone just behind the ear.
Although every case is unique, a minimally invasive approach can work in the lateral skull base. A “keyhole” smaller than a dime, is made behind the ear. From there, a slender endoscope is inserted, and follows the existing natural pathways to the target tumor. There is no need for metal retractors or going through normal brain tissue.
Will this affect the hearing of the patient?
Lateral skull base surgery can affect, or even eliminate, the hearing on the side of the surgery. However, our goal to avoid this if at all possible.
What types of tumors are unique to the posterior section of the skull base?
Benign tumors in this area include meningiomas, epidermoids, dermoids, chondromas, and chordomas. They are far more common than malignant tumors. But, while they are benign, their growth can impinge upon parts of the brain and can cause various conditions such as hydrocephalus.