Skull Base Tumors

Skull base tumors are cancerous or noncancerous growths that occur deep within your head. They are difficult to reach and located near sensitive tissue and blood vessels. But healing is possible when you come to Henry Ford Health.

We deliver world-class care, including treatments that are gentler on your body. Our team’s experience treating pituitary tumors, meningiomas and other conditions gives you the best chances for excellent results.

Skull base tumor care at Henry Ford: Why choose us?

All the tests, treatments, and specialists you need are in one program. Trusted skull base surgeons provide care the reflects the latest science on treating complex tumors. They work alongside other Henry Ford specialists to deliver therapies with the highest level of precision. This approach is not widely available in the Midwest and leads to exceptional outcomes.

Endoscopic skull base surgery

In most cases, skull base tumor treatment includes surgery. At Henry Ford, you have access to the highest level of care. Two surgeons use long thin tubes with instruments at the tip (endoscopes) for the most precise procedures. Find out more about endoscopic skull base surgery.

Here’s how it works:

  • A rhinologist (surgeon specializing in nose and sinus anatomy) accesses the surgical area using endoscopes we slide into your nostrils. This includes making a small hole in the skull base.
  • A neurosurgeon specializing in brain tumors removes the tumor using tiny instruments.

Types of skull base tumors we treat

There are many types of skull base tumors. Some are cancerous and others are not. Our experts treat all of them.

Skull base tumors we treat include:

  • Pituitary tumors develop in a gland that produces hormones regulating critical body functions.
  • Meningiomas are tumors that develop in the brain and spinal cord’s protective tissue.
  • Craniopharyngiomas occur near the base of the brain.
  • Cavernous sinus tumors are complex and develop near the base of the brain, several nerves and important blood vessels.
  • Paranasal sinus cancers form in the hollow spaces behind the nose.
  • Glomus jugulare tumors develops in the skull bones near your temples and can affect the ear and upper neck.
  • Acoustic neuroma (vestibular schwannoma) is a tumor that develops on the nerve of the inner ear.

Skull base tumor symptoms

Small skull base tumors often do not cause symptoms. As they get larger, they may press on nerves or nearby tissue, causing symptoms that may include:

  • Blurred vision or vision loss
  • Headaches
  • Difficulty breathing through your nose
  • Altered sense of smell
  • Hearing loss
  • Balance issues
  • Seizures

Skull base tumor diagnosis

Doctors often detect signs of a skull base tumor during an imaging study for another condition. To confirm the diagnosis, a neurologic exam and additional testing are necessary.

Your care may include:

  • Angiogram, or X-ray of the blood vessels, to help assess blood flow to the tumor or nearby structures.
  • Biopsy involves taking a small tissue sample from the tumor and examining it in a lab. We may use this test if we cannot make a diagnosis using imaging studies.
  • Blood tests may be necessary for pituitary tumors to determine whether they are affecting hormone production.
  • MRI uses a powerful magnet to produce 3D images of the skull base and nearby structures.

Radiation therapy

Skull base tumor treatment may also include radiation therapy. This treatment uses high-energy beams to break up abnormal cells. You may need radiation therapy to lower the likelihood of the tumor coming back. This option is also available for people who cannot have surgery.


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Call us at (313) 916-2241.


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