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What are skull base tumors?

The skull base is an area of the skull located behind the eyes and nose that extends to the back of the head creating a base for the brain to settle. Five main bones (ethmoid, sphenoid, occipital, frontal, and temporal) are fused together to create this complex formation called the skull base that separates the brain from other important organs and bodily systems.

A growth or mass of abnormal tissue along the areas that comprise the skull base is considered to be a skull base tumor. A skull base tumor can be benign (noncancerous) or malignant (cancerous) and will be considered a primary tumor if it originated in the skull base. Secondary, or metastatic tumors will have spread to the skull base from another origin point.

What are the different types of skull base tumors?

A skull base tumor’s location, size, and type will all play a part in a patient’s treatment. There are many different types of skull base tumors to be aware of, below are a few of the most commonly seen by Dr. Vasudevan, brain and spine surgeon in St. Louis:

Benign skull base tumors:

  • Vestibular schwannoma: also known as an acoustic neuroma, these are found wrapped around the hearing and balance nerves serving the ear.

  • Craniopharyngiomas: are relatively rare tumors that develop near the pituitary gland, optic nerves, and deep brain tissues.

  • Meningiomas: a common tumor originating from the brain coverings called meninges. Skull base meningiomas can be found in delicate locations and require careful and skilled surgical removal.

  • Pituitary adenomas: relatively common tumors that begin in the epithelial cells of the pituitary gland. A pituitary tumor can lead to exceedingly high levels of pituitary hormone production.

  • Rathke’s cleft cyst: a non-tumorous growth that is filled with fluid and develops near the pituitary gland.

Malignant skull base tumors:

  • Chordomas: form from the remains of the embryonic tissues that comprise spinal disks and can be quite aggressive.

  • Chondrosarcoma: will develop in transformed cartilage cells and while slow growing, can be invasive.

  • Paranasal sinus cancers: tumors that have grown inside of the sinuses, or open spaces behind the nose, and can spread to and involve the skull base.

  • Esthesioneuroblastoma (Olfactory neuroblastoma): cancerous tumors that form and grow within the nasal cavity and can spread to and involve the skull base.

What are the signs and symptoms of skull base tumors?

According to Dr. Vasudevan, a brain and spine surgeon in St. Louis, skull base tumors can cause varying symptoms depending on the size, location, and type of tumor. Sometimes, there are no symptoms at all and these are discovered by chance.

Some common skull base symptoms include:

  • Headaches

  • Hearing loss

  • Breathing irregularities

  • Regular sinus problems

  • Balance or vertigo issues

  • Blurred, doubled, or loss of vision

  • Facial pain, numbness, weakness, or paralysis

Skull base tumors vary widely, and there are seemingly no obvious causes for the development of these tumors. In rare cases, previous exposure to radiation and certain genetic conditions can be associated with an increased risk of developing skull base tumors.

How does our practice treat skull base tumors?

Dr. Vasudevan is fellowship-trained in the comprehensive treatment of skull base tumors. Through our relationship with the Department of Neurosurgery at Washington University in St. Louis, multiple experts from different specialties are readily available to ensure that patients receive access to the best possible skull base tumor care available today.

A personal treatment plan will always be tailored to your specific needs. At our office we offer our patients the most advanced treatments available from Dr. Vasudevan, brain and spine surgeon in St. Louis:

  • Craniotomy: a surgical method of removing brain tumors. It requires general anesthesia and computer-guided access into the skull to attack the tumor at its source.

  • Endoscopic & Keyhole surgeries: minimally invasive techniques that use small incisions and tiny openings to remove certain skull base tumors.

  • Stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS): a non-surgical therapy where radiation is delivered to the tumor’s location in the skull base.

Why our practice?

Being diagnosed or having a family member diagnosed with a skull base tumor is world altering, and we want to help you. With fellowship training and board certification from the American Board of Neurological Surgery, Dr. Kumar Vasudevan demonstrates specialized expertise and validates his competency. Patients can trust his advanced training, skills, and commitment to providing excellent care in neurosurgery. Contact us today and schedule an appointment.

Skull Base Tumors Neurosurgeon in St. Louis - Kumar Vasudevan, MD

Skull Base Tumors


Providing state-of-the-art treatments for patients with meningiomas, acoustic neuromas, pituitary tumors and other skull base conditions.


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