Fernando E. Silva, MD | Authors

Extended Transbasal Approach to Skull Base Tumors

June 01, 2005

A variety of novel surgical approaches have been developed in recentyears to manage disease of the cranial base. Few offer the widthand depth of exposure achievable with the extended transbasal approach.This approach combines a bifrontal craniotomy with anorbitonasal or orbitonasoethmoidal osteotomy, and potentially asphenoethmoidotomy to provide broad access to malignancies of theanterior, middle, and posterior skull base. The approach enables the enbloc resection of tumors within the frontal lobes, orbits, paranasal sinuses,and sphenoclival corridors without brain retraction and mayobviate the need for transfacial access. This can be combined with additionalapproaches, based on the tumor's epicenter. Reconstruction isaccomplished with the use of pericranium, and in some instances, atemporalis muscle pedicle or a gracilis microvascular free flap. Complicationsinclude cerebral spinal fluid leakage, pneumocephalus, infection,and cranial neuropathies. However, the morbidity and mortalityassociated with this approach is low. The extended transbasal approachis a relatively novel exposure that enables the skilled cranialbase surgeon to safely excise many malignant lesions previously felt tobe unresectable.