Certain skull base brain tumors, particularly pituitary tumors and those tumors located toward the front part of the skull, can be treated and removed endoscopically. Transsphenoidal surgery is carried out through the sphenoid sinus (located directly behind the nose) without entering the brain cavity itself. Pituitary tumors and certain meningiomas are just two of the brain tumor types that are removable using the minimally invasive endoscopic approach for brain tumor treatment.
While the patient is under anesthesia, the endoscopic surgeon at the Skull Base Center will place a small endoscope (about the diameter of a pea) through one nostril. The endoscope has a powerful camera at the end of it that allows the surgeon to view the area directly. The surgeon is then able to use small micro-instruments placed through the right and left nostril to carefully remove the tumor. Once the tumor is removed, the floor of the skull base is repaired and the endoscope is removed.
As a brain tumor treatment, endoscopic surgery is less invasive than traditional open surgical techniques and results in a faster, less painful recovery for the patient. The endoscope also allows the surgeon to see areas all around the tumor. Surgery for most pituitary tumors takes about three hours.
After an endoscopic tumor removal, some patients may need to take hormone replacements, which will be discussed with your endocrinologist at your post-operative visit. If the tumor is able to be fully removed, no further treatment, other than routine follow-up MRIs, is required.