Centers & Programs : Skull Base Tumor Program

skull base tumor program

Technological advances have enhanced the prognosis of skull base tumors, and have, in many cases, eliminated the need for long hospital stays. A tumor or lesion of the skull base is any growth that touches or penetrates the bony “floor” at the bottom of the skull, whether benign or malignant.

In the past, such tumors presented difficult treatment challenges. Recent medical breakthroughs however, provide physicians with improved treatment modalities to treat these lesions and associated cranial nerve disorders. Advances in the areas of diagnostic imaging, interventional radiology, surgical approaches and techniques, as well as electrophysiological monitoring, have all advanced the treatment of such skull base tumors and disorders.

For almost 20 years, the University of Miami Skull Base Program, a multidisciplinary program devoted exclusively to skull base surgery, has provided world-class treatments to patients from throughout the world. Performing every procedure with the latest in cutting-edge technology, the faculty have pioneered the surgical removal of many common as well as rare tumors and/or benign conditions (ex. acoustic neuromas, meningiomas, carcinomas, sarcomas, clival chordomas, pituitary adenomas, petrous apex lesions, anterior skull base tumors, and cervical spine decompression for a variety of compressive conditions) affecting the spinal column at the base of the skull. The remarkable skills and experience of our skull base surgical team contributes to their success in treating thousands of skull base tumor patients and makes them uniquely qualified to operate on one of the most complex areas of the human anatomy.

The skull base interdisciplinary team is comprised of University of Miami faculty physicians and other professionals with training and experience in skull base surgery, reconstructive or rehabilitative therapies and treatment of facial nerve disorders. It draws from several specialties, including Neurosurgery, Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery, Facial Plastics and Reconstruction Surgery, Neuroradiology, Radiation Oncology, Medical Oncology, Pathology, and Neurology. The involvement of speech and swallowing therapists, vestibular (dizziness or imbalance) rehabilitation specialists, physical therapists, social service and specialized nursing care are also a critical component of the team and offer patients the best chance at a rapid return in their quality of life after surgery.
Additionally, the medical center has a wide array of supportive facilities and equipment, including: state-of-the-art surgical suites; specialized intensive care units, intraoperative computer navigation and other state-of-art imaging technologies; intra-operative electrophysiologic cranial nerve monitoring; interventional radiology facilities for angiography and occlusion of vessels; and cranial nerve rehabilitation programs, including voice and swallowing therapies.

For those patients with malignant tumors, the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer and University of Miami Hospital, provide a full range of diagnostic and therapeutic oncology services. In fact, the medical center is one of the few locations in the region offering the state-of-the-art Gamma Knife treatment for skull base tumor treatment. The Gamma Knife allows the neurosurgeon to operate on intracranial problems with radiation instead of a scalpel. Using highly sophisticated 3-dimensional computerized dose planning, the Gamma Knife delivers a single, highly concentrated dose of radiation to a small, critically located target within the brain by focusing gamma rays from 201 separate sources on the same precise point. Narrow, high-intensity radiation beams are used to destroy tumors without surgical incision or a long hospital stay.

In addition, the Sylvester Center is one of only 28 cancer treatment centers in the United States designated for accreditation by the National Cancer Institute as a Comprehensive Cancer Center and is the only center so designated in Florida.