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What is a Skull Base Brain Tumor?

What is a skull base brain tumor?

Many brain tumors and other conditions affect the skull base. These include brain tumors, pituitary tumors, acoustic neuromas, meningiomas, and other types of tumors and developmental abnormalities and infections.

The skull consists of several bones, often called sutures, that form the bottom of the head and the body ridge in the back of the eyes. The base of the skull lies behind the eyes and nose. Treating skull base tumors and conditions is challenging because they are very close to critical nerves and blood vessels in the brain, head, neck, and spinal cord, which can affect the body's ability to function.

Skull base tumors grow primarily on the inside of the skull, but occasionally on the outside. Some tumors originate in the skull base, while others spread there from a cancer elsewhere in the body (metastatic).

There are a variety of surgical approaches to removing skull base tumors, including minimally invasive endonasal endoscopic surgery. During endonasal endoscopic surgery, neurosurgeons remove the tumor(s) through the nose without cutting the face or skull. Other minimally invasive approaches used involve accessing the brain or skull base via a small incision in the eyebrow or from behind the ear.

Causes of and risk factors for skull base tumors:

There is no obvious cause for the development of skull base tumors. Risk factors that increase the chance of developing a skull base tumor may include:

  • Previous radiation therapy to the head to treat an infection of the scalp, or tumors of the head, neck or brain
  • Exposure to chemicals, including vinyl chloride, arsenic and herbicides
  • Certain genetic conditions

More information about skull base tumors and conditions:

Learn more about skull base tumors and conditions.

To make an appointment or request a consultation, contact the Johns Hopkins Skull Base Tumor Center at 410-614-0585.

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Maryland Patients

Please fax your latest MRI reports and referrals (if necessary) to 410-630-7865.
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Adult Neurology: 410-955-9441
Pediatric Neurology: 410-955-4259
Adult Neurosurgery: 410-955-6406
Pediatric Neurosurgery: 410-955-7337


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