Advanced Skull Base Tumor Surgery

detail of neck and head x-ray image

The skull base houses a complex network of nerves and blood vessels. When a tumor forms in the skull base, it requires extremely precise, skilled care. Dr. Peter Nakaji performs advanced skull base tumor surgery at his Phoenix to relieve symptoms and leave these nerves and blood vessels intact. He uses advanced imaging technology to determine the exact location of tumors, and can provide one of several minimally invasive techniques to safely remove the tumor. Contact Barrow Neurological Institute to learn more.

What Are Skull Base Tumors?

Your skull base contains most of the nerves that control your senses, speech, eye movement, facial sensation, balance, and other functions. Meanwhile, all blood that travels to your brain must pass through the skull base. Skull base tumors typically require immediate attention. Even benign tumors can disrupt neurological function and cause a host of complications.

At Barrow Neurological Institute, Dr. Nakaji treats several types of skull base tumors, including brain tumors, pituitary tumors, and acoustic neuromas (tumors of the inner ear).

Symptoms and Diagnosis of Skull Base Tumors

The symptoms of a skull base tumor will vary, depending on the type and size of the growth. However, some of the most common symptoms include:

  • Impaired vision
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Headaches
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Impaired hearing
  • A changed sense of smell
  • Nausea
  • Memory loss
  • Difficulties with balance

When patients exhibit any of the symptoms of a skull base tumor, Dr. Nakaji conducts a complete examination. First, he will administer a physical and neurological exam. You will discuss your symptoms and health history. Dr. Nakaji will also check your hearing, vision, balance, and other neurological functions. He will also use a CT (computed tomography) scan or an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) to obtain detailed images of your skull and brain. With a PET (positron emission tomography) scan, Dr. Nakaji can also determine the severity of your tumor.

Surgery and Other Treatment Options

Once Dr. Nakaji has diagnosed your condition, he will recommend a treatment based on the location of the tumor, whether it is malignant or benign, and your overall health. Typically, surgery is the most effective treatment, and Dr. Nakaji will always take the most conservative approach possible. The various surgical options include:

  • Endoscopic Endonasal Surgery : Dr. Nakaji will thread a thin, flexible tube with an attached surgical camera (endoscope) through the nasal passages to the skull base. The endoscope will transmit images that Dr. Nakaji will use to guide microscopic surgical tools in removing the tumor.
  • Radiosurgery : Highly precise radiation waves can eliminate a tumor with little impact to the surrounding tissues. The Gamma Knife®, CyberKnife®, and other advanced tools are extremely safe, accurate, and non-invasive.
  • Laser thermal ablation : Dr. Nakaji can create a tiny opening in the skull, through which he will insert a laser probe. The laser energy can eliminate the tumor. This quick procedure typically requires just one night in the hospital.
  • Keyhole surgery : Dr. Nakaji will remove a small amount of bone from the skull, granting access to the brain. He will use video imaging and tiny surgical tools to remove the tumor.
  • Craniotomy : In some cases, Dr. Nakaji may need to remove a larger portion of bone to access the tumor. The doctor will use extremely precise techniques to protect your safety and expedite healing.

Following surgery, Dr. Nakaji may recommend radiation therapy if the tumor is malignant, or if he cannot remove the entire growth.

Book a Consultation

If you have been diagnosed with a skull base tumor, or if you exhibit symptoms of this condition, contact Dr. Nakaji for advanced treatment.

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