Skull Base Tumors

What are Skull Base Tumors?

These are deep-seated tumors, both benign and malignant, that are located deep inside and beneath the brain. Thorough and meticulous surgical resection is the primary treatment for majority of these tumors. Because skull base tumors are located in very sensitive and deep areas of the cranial compartment, near the brain stem, cranial nerves and blood vessels that are essential to the brain, removal of these tumors requires specialized approaches and techniques. This often involves a team of physicians and surgeons that encompasses not only the surgical aspect of the treatment but also techniques of radiation and medical oncology. The Brain Tumor Center at NYU Langone has a comprehensive skull base program that offers the entire range of therapies to patients with such tumors.

Skull Base Conditions We Treat

Benign

  • Menigiomas
  • Pituitary Tumors
  • Acoustic Neuromas
  • Nerve Sheath Tumors (Schwannomas and Neurofibromas)
  • Chordomas
  • Hemangioblastomas
  • Orbital Tumors (Hemangiomas, Schwannomas, Menigiomas)
  • Epidermoids and Dermoid Tumors
  • Juvenile Angiofibromas

Malignant

  • Chondrosarcomas
  • Esthesioneuroblastomas
  • Nasopharyngial Carcinomas
  • Adenoid Cystic Carcinomas
  • Temporal Bone Cancers 

Our Surgical Team

Skull Base Surgery

Surgical techniques for treating skull base tumors have advanced substantially over the last decade with the introduction of minimally-invasive approaches. These approaches allow the surgeons to access the skull base through smaller areas, since their visualization of the surgical site is greatly facilitated by the use of endoscopes. This approach is further enhanced by the use of real-time surgical navigation that provides a high degree of accuracy in localizing the tumor.

The best long-term results, as far as recurrence of the tumor is concerned, are achieved by a thorough tumor removal. In some instances, an endoscopic approach is not adequate to accomplish this goal. Our surgeons are among the most experienced in the world at both open and minimally-invasive skull base techniques, allowing them to offer the entire range of approaches necessary to treat the patient. In other cases, complete tumor removal may not be possible for various reasons. The proper judgment of the extent of surgery is highly dependent on the experience of the surgical team. In addition, skull base surgery often requires proper reconstruction in order to minimize postoperative complications and restore function and appearance as fully as possible to facilitate our patients’ recovery and return them to a functioning life. Again, our surgeons have extensive expertise in these areas.

Intraoperative Neurophysiology

We work closely with a team of neurophysiologists during all of our surgical procedures. They monitor the electrical activity of the brain, brain stem, spinal cord and cranial nerves, thereby minimizing the risk of injury to these delicate structures.

Rehabilitation

Intensive rehabilitation, either as an inpatient or outpatient, is important in order to facilitate as quick and complete a recovery as possible. NYU Langone’s Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation is staffed by highly qualified physiatrists and therapists who will supervise the patient’s recovery process.

Other Therapies

Depending on the pathology of the tumor, radiation and chemotherapy may be needed after recovery from surgery. Even in the case of benign tumors, radiation may be offered either as an alternative to a surgical procedure or sometimes as an adjunct, when complete tumor removal is not possible. Our stereotactic radiosurgery program uses the Gamma Knife, which provides state-of-the-art, accurately focused single-fraction radiation, and is considered the “gold standard” in radiosurgery. The most up to date model of the Gamma Knife, the “Perfexion,” is available at NYU Langone.