Skull Base Tumor Center

At the Skull Base Tumor Center, a multi-disciplinary team of experts specializes in the research, diagnosis, and treatment of patients with skull base tumors.

Tumors of the skull base were at one time linked to a poor prognosis. Advances in microsurgical techniques, an increased understanding of both the skull base anatomy and behavior of these disease processes and improvements in neuroimaging have allowed such lesions to be successfully treated.

Anatomy of the Skull Base

The skull base is a complex irregular bone surface on which the brain rests. Contained within this region are major blood vessels that supply the brain with essential nutrients and important nerves with their exiting pathways. The floor of the skull is divided into three regions from front to back: the anterior, the middle, and the posterior compartments. The anterior compartment is the region above a person’s eyes, the middle compartment is the region behind the eyes and centered around the pituitary gland, an organ required for proper hormonal function.

The posterior compartment contains the brainstem and the cerebellum. The brainstem is the connection between the brain and spinal cord, containing the origin of nerves involved in the control of breathing, blood pressure, eye movements, swallowing, etc. This connection occurs through the large hole, known as the foramen magnum, within the center of the posterior compartment. The cerebellum, lying behind the foramen magnum, is involved with coordination and balance. The roof of the skull base is composed of the brain itself and a thick sheet of tissue on which the brain rests, called the tentorium. Adding to the complexity of this region is the fact that each compartment of the skull base is at a different level. The anterior compartment is highest and the posterior compartment lowest, when a person is standing and looking forward.