What is Skull-based Surgery?

Skull-based Surgery is a specialized form of surgery that treats conditions at the base of the skull. This includes the areas below the skull and the important nerves and vessels that support the senses of sight, hearing, and smell. Skull base surgery requires that these areas are reached without the need to remove the skull or retract the brain. It is important to reach these areas and perform surgery with minimal impact on the normal brain.

The skull base surgery for Otolaryngology is minimally invasive. It almost always uses a team approach. An ENT (ear nose and throat) specialist or otolaryngologist will often team up with a neurosurgeon in order to access these areas through either the forehead, eyelids or above and below the ear.

What Skull-based Conditions May Require Surgery?

Skull base conditions are very rare. If a patient has a skull base condition, it is important that they find a skull base team who is familiar with skull base surgery.

Pituitary tumors and sinus tumors are common skull base conditions that can be treated through the nose. Orbital tumors (located close to the eye) are also common. Many spinal fluid leakages (with fluid that drips from the nose) can be repaired via the nostrils. Acoustic neuritis, petrous and apex lesions, aneurysms, meningiomas, and other skull base conditions are all common.

These conditions can often be characterized by specific symptoms such as loss of sight, nosebleeds, and facial numbness. These symptoms are most commonly gradual and can be diagnosed by an ENT specialist or neurosurgeon using a CT scanner and MRI. Other tests may be done, such as hearing tests, visual field testing, and arterial studies.

What is the Recovery After Skull-based Surgery?

It can take 4 to 8 weeks to recover from surgery. Your cuts (incisions) may be sore for about 5 days after surgery. Your scalp may swell with fluid. You may also have numbness and shooting pains near your wound.