The skull base is the bottom part of the skull. While the sides, front, back, and top of the skull are essentially smooth, thin walls of bone, the skull base is dramatically more complex. The skull base is complex because every nerve in the body that carries signals to and from the brain crosses the skull base. Additionally, the large vessels that carry blood to and from the brain run through the skull base.
Skull base surgery is used to treat a variety of benign tumors, including acoustic neuroma, meningioma, schwannoma, glomus jugulare and vagale, epidermoid, pituitary tumors, and many others. On occasion in the pediatric population, a skull base biopsy may be required in order to diagnose other diseases such as leukemia, lymphoma, plasmacytoma, Langerhans’ dell histiocytosis, rhabdomyosarcoma, osteosarcoma, fibrosarcoma, or metastatic disease. The basic concept of skull base surgery is to approach the tumor from underneath or from the side by removing specific areas of skull base bone. Thus, the tumor can be exposed with little to no brain retraction.