Skull Base Tumors

Many tumors and other conditions are there which affect the skull base. Brain tumors, acoustic neuromas, meaningiomas and pituitary tumors etc. include in these. Certain other developmental abnormalities also affect the skull base. The skull has several bones, usually called as sutures. The space behind the eyes and nose is the place where lies the base of the skull. Treating skull base tumors is very complex, because they are seen very close to the blood vessels in the brain, head, neck, spinal cord and to critical nerves. Any slight mistakes can badly affect the proper functioning of the body.

Skull base tumors usually grow primarily on the inside of the skull. But occasionally it appears on the outside also. Some of them originate in the skull base, whereas some others may spread from there to elsewhere in the body.

There are a variety of surgical approaches to remove the skull tumors. All the surgeries are meant to remove the tumor. There are different types of skull based tumors:

  • Chondrosarcoma
  • Chordoma
  • Schwannoma
  • Meningioma
  • Pituitary tumor
  • Glomus jugulare
  • Craniopharyngioma etc

Skull--Based-Tumors

Symptoms of a skull tumor may vary according to the size and nature of the tumor. Common symptoms may include:

  • Vomiting
  • Headache
  • First-time seizures
  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Hoarseness
  • Hearing loss
  • Tinnitus
  • Difficulty with balance and coordination
  • Speech difficulties
  • Difficulty swallowing and
  • Facial pain, twitching, or paralysis

The symptoms of pituitary tumor are different from that of the others. It includes:

  • Rounding face
  • Very tall stature
  • Disproportionate face, hands and feet
  • Joint pains
  • High blood pleasure
  • Easy bruising
  • Stretch marks and
  • Excess sweating

The exact cause for skull base tumors is not yet known. There are certain factors that may increase the risk for such kinds of tumors. They are:

  • Exposure to certain chemicals
  • Family history of brain tumor and
  • Exposure to radiation etc

The physician might take a complete medical history and conduct physical examinations to diagnose the issue. The patient might have to undergo for tests like:

  • CT Scan
  • MRI
  • Dynamic MRI
  • Functional MRI
  • Dynamic CT Scan
  • MRA
  • MRS
  • PET
  • FS MRI
  • Cerebrospinal fluid examination
  • Endocrine evaluation
  • Perimetry and
  • Stereotactic biopsy etc

It is very difficult to access skull base tumors with surgery as they sit under the brain. Combinations of treatments are usually used for skull base tumors. Treatment options may include:

  • Observation
  • Medications
  • Shunt
  • Surgery
  • Different kinds of therapies and
  • Embolizaton

Shunt is a long, thin tube used to drain the excess cerebrospinal fluid from the brain to the abdomen. It is used when a brain tumor causes fluid to build upon the brain. Radiation therapies and chemotherapies are also used for treating patients with skull base tumors.

Surgery has been considered to be one of the prominent treatments for skull base tumors. It has been there in the list of primary treatments. But, being a complex process surgeons usually avoid surgical process and choose other kinds of treatments like radiation and chemotherapies. The location of the tumor and risk of causing serious neurological injuries makes the surgery difficult for the surgeons. One of the common type of surgeries is craniotomy. For the process, the surgeon makes a small incision in the scalp and removes the tumor through the hole. The limitation of the procedure is that, it is not possible to remove the tumor completely through the small incision.

With the technological advancements, new techniques have been introduced to the field. Endoscopic surgery is one among them. It is also used to treat skull base tumors. Endoscopic surgery is a minimally invasive microsurgery technique.