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Skull Base Surgery (Pituitary Tumors)

Comprehensive Care | Surgical Techniques

Specialized, Comprehensive Care

Defined by location, tumors that develop at the base of the skull are called skull base tumors. While they are often benign and slow growing, they can become a concern when they impact function by compressing sensitive anatomy in the brain such as the brainstem, cranial nerves and blood vessels. They are among the most challenging tumors to surgically treat and demand experienced and highly skilled surgeons.

Our NorthShore Neurological Institute multidisciplinary specialists are nationally renowned in the medical and surgical treatment of a variety of skull base tumors such as pituitary tumors (adenomas, craniopharyngiomas) and blood vessel diseases. Our commitment to patient care and use of advanced, minimally invasive surgical techniques distinguishes our program from others across the region.

Our fellowship-trained team is among the most experienced in the country, providing expert diagnosis and innovative treatment options to patients with a variety of skull base tumors and conditions including:

  • Meningioma
  • Acoustic neuroma
  • Chordoma
  • Cholesteatoma
  • Esthesionenuroblastoma
  • CSF leak
  • Trigeminal neuralgia
  • Hemifacial spasm
  • Brain aneurysm

Advanced Surgical Techniques

Our NorthShore Skull Base and Pituitary Surgery Program experts use the most advanced technology to perform minimally invasive procedures, resulting in faster recovery times and hidden or no incisions. Depending on a patient’s unique situation and relevant symptoms, our neurosurgical team closely partners with otolaryngology and neuro-oncology specialists to ensure the best treatment plan.

We have extensive experience employing minimally invasive surgical approaches for:

  • Pituitary tumors—growths that develop in the pituitary gland and can affect hormone production or press on the optic nerves and cause vision problems.
  • Acoustic neuromas—tumors that grow around the vestibulocochlear nerve, potentially leading to hearing loss, ringing in the ear and vertigo.
  • Vascular compression syndromes—compression of the trigeminal nerve that can cause intense facial pain (trigeminal neuralgia) or compression of the facial nerve leading to hemifacial spasm.

Advanced surgical techniques allow for these tumors to be successfully removed through very small incisions hidden in either the eyebrow or hair, or through the nose. The two most common approaches include:

  • Endoscopic Endonasal approach
    This technique involves placing specialized surgical instruments inside the nasal cavity to gain access to certain areas of the brain, skull and upper spine.
  • Keyhole approach
    This technique uses a combination of microscopes and endoscopes placed behind the eyebrow or hair line to gain access to the brain and skull base. 

Our team of experts is trained and able to apply additional techniques as well, including: endoscope-assisted, retrosigmoid and translabyrinthine approaches among others.

For some patients, regular surveillance of the tumor’s growth is sufficient. Others may benefit from medications or radiation therapy, including advanced stereotactic radiosurgery, to shrink their tumors. Upon diagnosis, our team of experts will determine the most effective course of treatment.

For More Information

Please call 877.570.7020 for more information on skull base tumor symptoms and treatment, or to schedule an appointment with one of our specialists.