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Minimally Invasive Skull Base Surgery

The endoscopic approach to the anterior skull base is an innovative technique used for brain tumor removal through the nose. This type of procedure requires a team of neurosurgeons and otolaryngologists.

An endoscope is a thin tube with a light at the end. The light enables the surgeon to view the internal structures and use special instruments to remove the tumor.

UC Irvine surgeons have extensive experience with the endoscopic approach to the skull base. In addition to its success in adults, endoscopic skull base surgery has been performed in children for various tumors or lesions.


A number of conditions can be treated with minimally invasive skull base surgery, including:

  • Acromegaly
  • Adenocarcinoma
  • Adenoid cystic carcinoma
  • Adenoma
  • Angiofibroma
  • Arachnoid cyst
  • Basilar invagination
  • Brain metastases
  • Brain tumors
  • Brain aneurysm
  • Cerebrospinal fluid leak
  • Chiari malformation
  • Cholesterol granuloma
  • Chondroma
  • Chondrosarcoma
  • Chordoma
  • Craniofacial fracture
  • Craniofacial malformation
  • Craniopharyngioma
  • Cushing's disease
  • Dermoid and epidermoid tumors
  • Encephalocele
  • Esthesioneuroblastoma
  • Fibrous dysplasia
  • Glomus tumor
  • Hemangiopericytoma
  • Invasive fungal sinusitis
  • Inverted papilloma
  • Meningioma
  • Meningocele
  • Neurofibroma
  • Olfactory neuroblastoma
  • Optic nerve compression
  • Orbital inflammatory pseudotumor
  • Osteoma
  • Osteosarcoma
  • Pituitary adenoma
  • Pituitary apoplexy
  • Pituitary tumor
  • Pseudotumor cerebri
  • Rathke cleft cyst
  • Rhabdomyosarcoma
  • Rheumatoid pannus
  • Sinus tumor
  • Squamous cell carcinoma


There are several advantages to having minimally invasive surgery:

  • Reduced scarring
  • No incisions are done on the face, nose, scalp or under the lip
  • Reduced postoperative pain and discomfort
  • Shorter procedure time

By using an endoscope to remove tumors and lesions, the surgeon is able to get to otherwise difficult-to-reach areas at the skull base. This approach also enables surgeons to reach some tumors that were once considered inoperable.

The ability to place an angled endoscope within the tumor cavity and to see areas behind ledges has not always been possible with traditional surgical approaches.

Computer-assisted navigation

While the endoscope is being used, a computer assists the surgeon in identifying and preserving sensitive structures inside the skull.

With this technology, surgeons can see on screen in three dimensions while performing surgery to reduce the possibility of complications.

Team approach

The minimally invasive approach and resection is done with the two surgeons working side by side. The team approach to the treatment of skull base tumors is considered the standard in addressing complex disorders.

The team involves a head and neck skull base surgeon (neurotologist or anterior skull base surgeon) and a skull base neurosurgeon.

Before every procedure, the skull base surgery team at UCI Health discusses the plan of treatment and considers all of the options that would best suit the patient.

The team also reviews imaging studies for patients from outside Southern California before their visit and accommodates these patients to give them the best possible and most efficient care.

To learn more, call 714-456-7017 or request an appointment online ›
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