Osteoma of the Skull Base

Osteomas are slow-growing bony deposits that can form on the skull base or near the sinus cavity. Many of these benign tumors do not cause symptoms or require treatment. However, when treatment is necessary, it is best entrusted to a high-volume academic medical center that specializes in skull base neurosurgery.

At Tampa General Hospital’s Neuroscience Institute, the globally acclaimed, multidisciplinary team in the Skull Base Surgery Center includes neurosurgeons who are highly experienced in treating osteomas with open skull base surgery and endoscopic endonasal surgery. TGH is proud to have earned the noteworthy “high performing” designation for Neurology and Neurosurgery from U.S. News & World Report for 2023-24.

What Causes an Osteoma?

Most skull base osteomas develop for unknown reasons and cannot be conclusively linked to an underlying medical condition or a known risk factor. Scientists believe a small percentage of cases may be related to an inherited disorder known as Gardner syndrome, which is an autosomal dominant familial disease that also causes multiple polyps to form on the inner lining of the colon and rectum.

What Are the Symptoms of a Skull Base Osteoma?

An osteoma may begin to cause noticeable symptoms if it grows large enough to irritate a nearby nerve, block sinus drainage, encroach on the cranial cavity or press on structures near an eye. The resulting symptoms can include:

  • Facial pain or a visible lump
  • Headaches
  • Chronic sinus infections
  • Vision problems

How Is a Skull Base Osteoma Diagnosed?

Many small osteomas do not cause symptoms and either go undetected or are discovered in imaging scans performed for an unrelated reason. If an osteoma is suspected, a physician will typically discuss the symptoms (if any), perform a physical examination and order a computed tomography (CT) scan of the sinuses without contrast. The resulting images can help the physician evaluate the size and location of the osteoma relative to critical structures in the skull. Because osteomas are not cancerous, a biopsy is not needed to confirm the diagnosis.

What Are the Treatment Options for a Skull Base Osteoma?

Osteomas tend to grow slowly; therefore, a wait-and-watch approach may be appropriate for a small, asymptomatic tumor. However, if a large osteoma is causing disruptive symptoms, surgical removal may be considered.

At TGH, the preferred method of removing skull base osteomas is endoscopic endonasal surgery. This innovative, minimally invasive technique involves using the nose and nasal cavities as natural corridors to access skull base tumors.

As compared to open surgery, endoscopic surgery offers several potential advantages, including:

  • No incisions
  • Lower risk
  • A shorter hospital stay
  • A faster recovery

Choose TGH for World-Class Care

Through a combination of proven surgical acumen and leading-edge technology, the TGH team is continually improving patient outcomes by making skull base surgery safer, less invasive and more precise. If you would like to learn more, contact us at (800) 822-3627 to request an appointment with a specialist.

Take the Next Step

Learn more about Tampa General Hospital’s Skull Base Surgery Center and find out if our approach to care is right for you.