ZocdocAnswersHow invasive is skull base surgery?

Question

How invasive is skull base surgery?

If it's true that I have a skull base tumor, how difficult are they to treat and remove?

Answer

First of all I am sorry to hear that you may have a skull base tumor. This is a difficult question to answer because there are many different kinds of tumors that can be located at the skull base, and many different approaches to taking them out. In the same way that every person is different, every surgeon (including craniofacial/skull base surgeons) has their own methods for doing things. We refer to different methods of removing tumors as "approaches". The decision about what approach to take is dictated by many important factors including the histology (type of tumor), size, location, and its relationship to the surrounding structures. As you probably already understand the base of the skull has a lot of important anatomical structures in close proximity to each other, so even relatively small masses can have significant detrimental effects by invading or pushing on the structures around them (like cranial nerves, or major blood vessels). For this same reason, even benign (non-cancerous) lesions can be detrimental in this area. Thus the planning of the "approach" to remove the tumor has to also take into account all of the important structures and preserve all or as many as possible. Traditionally these tumors were all removed through large open procedures, however there has been a trend recently to remove these in a minimally invasive manner with endoscopes. I would definitely recommend discussing this with your skull base surgeon and they will tell you what techniques they prefer and which they think would be best for your tumor. Best of luck.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.