Learn more about skull base tumors and how they are treated.
Brain tumors take many shapes and sizes and have varying impacts on people’s overall health. Skull base tumors, however, warrant unique medical attention that is no longer relegated to invasive brain surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy.
Skull base tumors grow between the lining of the skull and brain
Some may be benign, but still need to be diagnosed and treated
These tumors can affect people of any age. The symptoms that accompany skull base tumors depend on their size and location inside of the skull.
Skull base tumors invite a host of symptoms that alter the manner in which you function on a daily basis. Some of the most prominent symptoms of these tumors are:
Changes in vision and hearing
Hearing a “whooshing” sound
Partial or total loss of hearing or vision
Cognitive or personality changes
These symptoms arise from the tumors compressing the lining of the skull and structures within the brain itself.
Types of Skull Base Tumors
Skull base tumors come in several different forms, all of which can impact different segments of the population and be accompanied by different symptoms. The types of skull base tumors are:
Glomus: Glomus skull base tumors are located behind the jugular vein and tympanic membrane. They are capable of crushing bones in the inner ear as well as the parts of the brain. They grow slowly. However, they can result in speaking problems, problems with swallowing, nerve damage, hearing loss, voice changes, and facial sensitivity and movement.
Meningiomas: Meningiomas grow in the linings of the nerves found in the brain lining. They are typically benign but can be malignant in some instances. They can grow and spread quickly.
Schwannomas: Schwannomas are also called neuromas because they grow in the coverings of the nerves in the brain and skull. They compromise facial sensitivity and throw off a person’s balance. They can also cause facial paralysis.
Chordomas: Chordomas are most often found in men between the ages of 20 to 40. They grow from remaining embryonic stem cells in the outside of the dural covering of the brain. These skull base tumors are more difficult to treat than others.
Chondrosarcomas: Chondrosarcomas are the rarest type of skull base tumors and grow in the temporal bone of the brain. They negatively impact the bony structures of the skull and brain and grow slowly.
All of these skull base tumors are eligible for treatment if they are diagnosed early. Surgeons use several different options for diagnosing and treating these tumors today.
Skull Base Tumor Diagnosis and Treatment Options
Skull base tumors are typically diagnosed with computed tomography or MRI technology. CT and MRI tests allow doctors to determine the size, grade, and severity of these growths.
Once they determine how significant the tumors are, they can then proceed to treat patients with any of the available treatment options. One of the most popular methods of treating skull base tumors is endoscopic surgery. Endoscopic skull base surgery involves the use of a lighted and angled endoscope that is inserted through an incision in the patient’s sinuses.
Once the endoscope is inserted into the skull, it can identify and target the tumor for treatment. Endoscopic surgery for skull base tumors is typically performed in conjunction with three-dimensional computer imagery. This imagery makes the surgery fast and precise in its removal or treatment of the tumor.
Surgeons may also use radiosurgery, which is also minimally invasive and safe. It protects the tissue in the brain and involves less time for recovery. It is also less painful than traditional brain surgery.