Skull base neurosurgery is performed to remove growths and abnormalities, both benign and malignant, from the underside of the brain and the top few vertebrae of the spine. This area, known as the skull base, is one of the most complex to operate on because it is difficult to reach and is filled with many nerves that are responsible for hearing, seeing, and facial movement. Additionally, the skull base is home to many blood vessels that supply oxygen to the brain and spinal cord.
There are many conditions that can be treated by skull base neurosurgery. Some of these include:
Brain aneurysm – A bulging spot in a blood vessel in the brain
Pituitary tumors – These occur behind the nose and eyes
Chordomas – Slow growing bone tumors generally found at the base of the skull
Trigeminal neuralgia – Severe pain on one side of the face
Arteriovenous malformations – Arteries and veins that are connected abnormally
Growths resulting from infections
There are two main approaches to skull base neurosurgery – endoscopic and open skull. Endoscopic neurosurgery is minimally invasive and is performed through a small incision, usually in the nose. After the incision is made, an endoscope (a thin, lighted tube equipped with a small camera) is inserted into the incision and guided to the area of operation. A set of tiny surgical instruments then allows a surgeon to operate on areas that would otherwise be difficult to access. Although this minimally invasive approach is the preferred method of skull base neurosurgery, traditional or open base skull surgery is sometimes the best option for a patient’s individual case. During traditional skull base surgery, incisions are made to the face and skull, and pieces of bone are removed in order to allow the surgeon to access the intended area.
Tampa General Hospital has a team of neurosurgeons that can perform skull base neurosurgery for any of the conditions that may require it. These surgeons are among the top in their field, for that reason, Tampa General Hospital has earned “high performing” designation for Neurology & Neurosurgery by U.S. News & World Report for 2022-23, meaning we are ranked among the top 10% of in the nation.