Skull Base Surgery

A Skull Base tumor is one which occurs around the base of the brain, at the intersection between the cranium (where the brain lies) and the face. This is the area where you’ll find openings for your spinal cord, and the nerves that control vital structures of your head, face, neck and the rest of the body. It’s important to understand that many of these tumors are benign – they are not cancerous However, these tumors may cause significant impairments due to their compression of vital structures, including the brainstem.

Whether you have a tumor arising from the brain (meningioma, acoustic neuroma, pituitary tumor) or a tumor arising from the head and neck, it takes an experienced and highly trained team of surgeons to operate in this complex anatomy.

What's next if I’ve been diagnosed with a skull base tumor?

Most skull base tumors are benign. Though not cancerous, they can still be serious. A tumor of the nose, sinus, skull base and pituitary gland can cause many different problems. It may affect your memory, your speech, your hearing, your vision, and your movement. It may cause headaches and other pains. Skull base tumors generally grow slowly allowing some time to consider your treatment options. Our specialists can help patients and their families determine which approach is best based on age, lifestyle, overall health, and personal preferences.

Why Choose Our Team?

The members of the Center for Skull Base Surgery team at The George Washington University Medical Faculty Associates — surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists and radiologists — all work together to bring an unparalleled skull base treatment expertise and skill level to the Washington, DC, area.

Our multidisciplinary team treats both benign and malignant tumors of the nose, pituitary gland, sinus and skull base with minimally invasive procedures so patients can get back to enjoying their lives. Quickly.

Our Team

Our neurosurgery team is one of very few in the Washington, DC region to provide patients the option of single-port (or single entry) intracranial endoscopy. Endoscopy is a minimally invasive surgical approach in which a tiny camera is strategically inserted to provide high-definition visualization of an area of the brain. During the procedure, specialists utilize fiber optic instruments combined with high-definition imaging to inspect, treat and/or remove tumors and cysts from the brain. The single-port approach not only streamlines the procedure, it also provides a faster recovery and a more aesthetically pleasing result as there’s typically only a tiny scar visible in the patient’s hairline or along the eyebrow.

Patients do not need to travel to find expertise. Expertise comes from fellowship training and number of surgeries performed. What matters is experience in using breakthrough technology. When you choose an experienced skull base team that practices near your home base, you get that extra level of comfort that comes with knowing your doctor, the surgeon who knows your case, is close by.

What Does Fellowship-Trained Mean? Why Is It Important?

It usually takes 12 or more years of education and training after high school to become a surgeon. College. Medical School. Residency. Most doctors start practicing in their specialties after all that work. That's not the case with the members of our team. Every member of our Skull Base team has additional fellowship training in his sub-specialty. That extra concentrated surgical training gives each member of our team an unusual mastery of the highly advanced surgical techniques that often take years and years of private practice to achieve. Most definitely, there's a great deal of competition for fellowships these days. Only the brightest, most promising doctors are awarded fellowship spots.

Conditions We Treat

Brain tumor treatment options depend on the type of brain tumor you have, as well as its size and location. At the Center for Skull Base Surgery our specialists address several tumors and medical conditions.

More information about the conditions we treat

Diagnostic Tests

Our Center for Skull Base Surgery offers a variety of diagnostic tests.

Image Tests:

  • CT scan, MRI scan, PET scan, Angiography

Biopsy Procedures:

  • Fine-needle aspiration (FNA), Nasal Endoscopy

Other Tests:

  • Hearing, Vision, Swallowing function

 

Frequently Asked Questions

It usually takes 12 or more years of education and training after high school to become a surgeon. College. Medical School. Residency. Most doctors start practicing in their specialties after all that work. That's not the case with the members of our team. Every member of our Skull Base team has additional fellowship training in his sub-specialty. That extra concentrated surgical training gives each member of our team an unusual mastery of the highly advanced surgical techniques that often take years and years of private practice to achieve. Most definitely, there's a great deal of competition for fellowships these days. Only the brightest, most promising doctors are awarded fellowship spots.

FAQ: What questions should I ask my doctor?

  • What are the risks involved with your preferred treatment option?
  • How much improvement can I expect from your option versus other options?
  • What happens if I decide against (or to delay) treatment?
  • How much experience do you have performing this type of surgery?
  • How many surgeries like this do you perform every year?
  • Do you have fellowship or specialized training with this particular surgery?
  • Do you have a patient who had a similar condition who might speak to me regarding his or her outcome?
  • Should I expect pain after the operation? If so, for how long?
  • When may I resume my normal activities?
  • What type of follow up care should I expect?
Brain Tumor Symptoms

The symptoms associated with a brain tumor can vary. There are many different types of brain tumors – some cancerous, some non-cancerous. Depending on the nature of the abnormal brain cells that comprise the tumor, the mass can begin in your brain which is known as a primary brain tumor, or cancer can spread to your brain from other parts of the body.

The following list represents some possible signs and symptoms of a brain tumor. See a qualified physician for a proper diagnosis if you or someone you know is experiencing the following persistent signs and symptoms:

  • Headaches
  • Facial Pain
  • Speech difficulty
  • Vertigo/Dizziness/Poor balance
  • Hearing Loss
  • Vision problems
  • Ringing in ears
  • Constant tear-like discharge from the nose
  • Nausea
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Drooping of eyelid, lips or other facial weakness
  • Impaired ability to taste or smell