Patients with skull base tumors that grow in hard-to-reach parts of the skull, such as near the spine, base of the brain and other delicate areas, can develop nasal, brain or nerve damage if not treated. The University of Chicago Medicine’s skull base tumor team excels at diagnosing and treating a wide range of benign and cancerous skull base tumors. These multidisciplinary experts will work together to decide if endoscopic endonasal surgery is the best solution for your specific condition.

What is endoscopic endonasal surgery?

An endoscopic endonasal approach (EEA) is a minimally invasive surgery that provides access to a skull base tumor by going through your nose/sinuses, allowing your surgeon to locate and remove the growth with less disruption of outside structures of the head and face.  

We combine specialists from neurosurgery and otolaryngology to provide you with unparalleled skill and expertise for your procedures. First, our otolaryngologist uses an endoscope with high definition cameras as well as specialized instruments to create a pathway to the tumor and affected skull base area. With the tumor in view with the endoscope, the neurosurgeon uses the pathway created by the otolaryngologist to completely remove the tumor through the nose.

Our surgeons work together to preserve normal nasal structures in order to reduce postoperative nose and sinus symptoms. This minimally invasive technique also eliminates the need for large incisions and prevents facial scarring. By avoiding the incisions that are common with traditional open and cranial procedures, we decrease the pain patients experience and allow for more rapid return to normal daily activities after surgery.

Are there any risks associated with EEA?

The skull base surgery team at UChicago Medicine has the expertise and technology needed to perform endoscopic endonasal surgery in even the most challenging cases. If you are a candidate for EEA, it is important to understand that like any surgical procedure, there are some risks associates with this procedure.

Minor risks include:

  • Changes in nasal breathing
  • Nasal discharge
  • Nasal crusting
  • Changes in smell, which are most commonly temporary.

There is also a small risk of developing a cerebrospinal fluid leak after this surgery. Our team will carefully patch the area of the surgery after the tumor is removed in order to prevent the leak from occurring.

Benefits of Endoscopic Endonasal Surgery

Minimally invasive endonasal surgery offers several advantages compared to conventional procedures, including:

  • Surgical tumor removal through the nose
  • Performed without causing facial scars or changes to the facial appearance
  • Decreased manipulation of normal brain tissue
  • Reduced pain after surgery
  • Faster overall recovery

Who is a candidate for endoscopic endonasal surgery?

If you have recently been diagnosed with a skull base condition, please feel free to schedule a consultation with on of our skull base otolaryngologists (rhinologists) or neurosurgeons to discuss whether endoscopic endonasal surgery is right for you. We offer both in-office and telemedicine visits to fully address any questions you may have.

Our team will work with you to determine if endoscopic endonasal surgery is right for you.

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Skull Base Tumors