UW neurosurgeons perform skull base surgery for patients with brain tumors or aneurysms.
What is skull base surgery?
With skull base surgery, the tumor or aneurysm is sitting beneath the brain. Neurosurgeons approach either from underneath or from the side of the tumor or aneurysm. The shorter surgical pathway results in less brain disturbance compared to more invasive procedures. Recovery time can also be quicker and complications fewer with this approach.
Recovery time can range from three to four days to several weeks, depending on the approach and location of the tumor.
Conditions That May Require Skull Base Surgery
The UW Health Skull Base Multidisciplinary Team provides treatment of the following disorders:
- Acoustic Neuroma (Vestibular Schwannoma)
- Arachnoid cysts
- Arteriovenous Malformation (AVM)
- Auditory rehabilitation
- Cavernous angiomas
- Clivus chordoma
- Encephalocele (cerebral spinal fluid leak)
- Epidermoid (congenital cholesteatoma)
- Glomus Jugulare Tumors
- Facial nerve disorders
- Jugular Foramen Tumors
- Meniere's Disease
- Petrous apex tumors
- Skull base infections and osteomyelitis
- Temporal bone auditory canal carcinoma
- Tic Douloureux (Trigeminal Neuralgia)
- Vascular Decompression
About the Skull Base
The skull base is the bottom portion of the skull on which your brain rests. This area includes the eye sockets (orbital bone), cheek bone, the top of your palate (palatine bone), your ear canals and the bottom portion of your skull behind your head (occipital bone.) The skull base also contains 12 cranial nerves and multiple arteries.
Threats to the Skull Base
The cranial nerves control many basic functions, including the senses of smell, taste and sight, facial movements and sensitivity, and hearing. Tumors and aneurysms can threaten cranial nerve function and have substantial ramifications for patients if unaddressed.
Do I need skull base surgery?
Diagnosis for skull base surgery is based on your MRIs and/or CT scans. These scans show the location of the tumor or aneurysm. Your doctor will determine if this is a procedure that would work with your diagnosis.
Prior to Surgery
- Appointments: You will see a nurse practitioner and a neurosurgeon, and depending on the tumor type, perhaps an otolaryngologist before surgery, for a detailed explanation of the procedure, risks and benefits.
- Testing: You may have a Stealth MRI and/or a formal cerebral angiogram at UW Hospital. The Stealth MRI is a navigational MRI used in the operating room by the neurosurgeon to plan for the surgery. The cerebral angiogram determines the relationship of the arteries to the tumor and is necessary when the tumors are close to blood vessels.