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What Is Skull Base Surgery & How Does It Work?

Skull base surgery is performed by a skull surgery specialist to extract a tumor or other growth from the base of the skull, also known as the bottom. Endoscopic skull base surgery, also known as minimally invasive skull base surgery, is a surgical method that allows doctors to perform this intricate procedure via the nose.

What Is the Purpose of Skull Base Surgery?

Skull base surgery removes malignancies such as craniopharyngiomas (brain tumors around the pituitary gland), sinonasal tumors, birth defects, pituitary gland tumors, congenital abnormalities, and brain hernias, among others. 

Treatment Options for the Skull Base

The skull base surgery approach provides a variety of treatment choices to meet two goals: treating the patient’s condition and achieving the highest possible level of health. Skull base treatments may include— 

Surgical Treatments 

  1.  Endoscopic Surgical Techniques with Minimal Invasion.

  2.  Techniques such as advanced microscopic, laser, and ultrasonic imaging. 

  3.  Reconstructive and restorative Surgery of the Facial and Skull Base. 

  4.  Open Skull Surgery. 

Non-Surgical Treatments

  1.  Radiation Therapy

  2.  Palliative Care

  3.  CyberKnife

  4.  Chemotherapy

  5.  Radiosurgery.

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Preparation before Skull Base Surgery 

The medical team cares for a patient who has tumors or other illnesses that necessitate skull base surgery. Depending on the diagnosis, the doctor’s care team may include an ophthalmologist, an anesthesiologist, an endocrinologist, a neurosurgeon, an oncologist, a radiologist, and an ENT surgeon. Doctors will also most likely request a CAT scan and/or an MRI scan to make preparations for surgery. Before surgery, the patient may be required to go through additional tests, treatments, or examinations.

What Is Minimally Invasive Skull Base Surgery and How Is It Performed?

  • The patient is dosed with anesthesia so that they can sleep through the procedure. 
  • The surgeon then proceeds by inserting an endoscope into the patient through the nose. An endoscope is a narrow tube with a light and high-definition camera which allows the surgeon to see the operated area. 
  • Next, the surgeon removes the tumor or abnormal growth with special equipment.

How long does it take to get a skull base surgerys?

The duration of the surgery is determined by the state of the patient. However, in general, it typically takes around two hours from the moment anesthetic is provided in regular instances. More complicated cases may take four to six hours to complete.

What Follows After Minimally Invasive Skull Base Surgerys?

  1.  The doctor places absorbable nasal packing material after the surgery to limit the bleeding. It also helps in keeping the tissue and structure separated.

  2.  The doctor also prescribes a saline nasal spray and antibiotic jelly/ ointment to retain moisture in the nose and prevent chapping or crusting. 

  3.  Following surgery, a patient will also be recommended to see an ENT surgeon regularly. This is so that the surgeon can examine the wound and remove any crusting inside the nose.

  4.  A patient may also need follow-up consultations with other specialists for different treatments, depending on the diagnosis.

  5.  Patients must avoid activities that can trigger head pressure post-surgerys for at least one month after skull bases surgery.

  6.  They should not exert undue strain on the body, not even for stimulating bowel movement. This is also why doctors prescribe a stool softener. 

  7.  They should not blow their nose and should consume liquid only with straws.

  8.  They should not sneeze with their mouths closed.  

  9.  They should not lie flat on the bed— they should sleep with a couple of pillows to cushion and support the head. 

Skull Base Surgery: What Are the Risks?

  1.  A cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leak is the most prevalent complication following skull base surgery. If the protective coating of the brain has tears, the CSF fluid that protects the brain can flow out from the nose. It’s important to consult the doctor for CSF leaks. 

  2.  Patients may also experience the risk of damaging blood vessels or vital nerves at the skull base.

  3.  Other risks associated with skull bases surgery may include taste & smell loss, bleeding, teeth numbness, and infections, among other things. 

What Else Should I Be Aware Of?

Skull bases surgery is used to treat significant disorders. Faster recovery, less discomfort, fewer scars, fewer problems, and a lower risk of harm to other sections of the brain are all advantages of minimally invasive skull bases surgery. Traditional skull bases surgery, on the other hand, might be the superior alternative in some circumstances. 

Always consult your skull surgery specialist for any concerns regarding the operation.

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