What is in the anterior skull base?

The anterior skull base joins the brain or cranial cavity to three important bone structures:

  1. orbits,
  2. the nasal cavity, and
  3. paranasal sinuses.

The orbits are the sockets that hold your eyes. While they may look like simple cavities, they actually are made up of seven different bones that all come together to form a pyramid-shaped structure on its side. The nasal cavity is the double hallway we breathe through, often simply referred to as the nose. It’s not the same shape as the nose on the outside, however.

The level of the bone separating the brain cavity and the nasal cavity is at the bridge of the nose, between the corners of the eyes.

The sinuses are hollow chambers placed within the bones of the face. They are located next to the nasal cavity and are therefore named the paranasal sinuses.

What is anterior skull base surgery?

In anterior skull base surgery, we take advantage of how close the brain is to the nose and sinuses. We can often access many areas of the bottom of the brain through the nasal and sinus cavities. Skull base surgery is typically performed by a team of surgeons, each with his or her own expertise. Because lesions being treated usually involve the brain, a neurosurgeon is typically involved. Otolaryngologists (ENT surgeons) work with the neurosurgeon to provide the approach to the skull base and remove parts of the lesion. This otolaryngologist may be a sinus specialist in the case of access through the nose and sinuses or a head and neck oncologic or cancer surgeon for larger tumors. A facial plastic/reconstructive surgeon may be involved to assist with restoring form and function after some surgeries. An ophthalmologic (eye) surgeon may also be involved in some cases. The challenge of skull base surgery is to access a deep-seated area with minimal effect on normal structures of the face, eyes, and ears.

Over the past decade, an increasing emphasis on minimally invasive techniques has resulted in numerous techniques that cause either small incisions or no external incisions at all. Many factors determine which techniques are most appropriate for each patient.

Am I a candidate for minimally invasive anterior skull base surgery?

The answer to this question depends on many factors and can only be answered after a thorough evaluation by a surgeon experienced in minimally invasive skull base surgery.

To arrange a consultation, phone the ENT clinic at 801-587-UENT (801-587-8368).