A Novel Approach to Complex Tumors

The skull base surgical team at The University of Kansas Hospital is one of the only in the nation that specializes in skull base tumor removal by virtually all methodsThe skull base surgical team at The University of Kansas Health System is among the nation's pioneers in using an advanced approach to remove complex brain tumors, often without a single incision.

The procedure is called minimally invasive transnasal endoscopic surgery. It involves a thin lighted tube with a tiny camera on the tip; state-of-the-art imaging equipment; some of the region's most renowned surgeons; top specialists from departments across the hospital; a high degree of training and expertise – and the patient's nose.

Using the nose and nasal passages as a corridor, the team navigates an endoscope through the challenging terrain of the skull base to reach the tumor. Supporting the underside of the brain, the skull base protects delicate and complex structures that include cranial nerves and multiple arteries controlling hearing, vision and balance.

"The endoscope allows us to access narrow places, providing large, panoramic views," said Otolaryngology's David Beahm, MD. "This offers us better visualization of the tumor or skull base disorder we're treating."

Guided by highly detailed computer images, the team employs a minimally invasive approach to treat both cancerous and noncancerous tumors of the brain, spine, nose, sinuses and eye sockets. Among other conditions treated: cerebral spinal fluid leaks, decompression of cranial nerves and ligation of the arteries and aneurysms.

"For our patients, the advantages include faster recovery, shorter hospital stays and lower risk of infection," explained Roukoz Chamoun, MD, a key neurosurgeon on the team. Minimizing incisions also offers the obvious benefit of a better cosmetic result and functional outcome for the patient, he added.

In addition to Otolaryngology and Neurosurgery, the skull base surgery program is a collaboration among Ophthalmology, Interventional Radiology, Radiation Oncology, medical oncology and other specialties.

The health system is one of only a few in the nation that specializes in removing skull base tumors using virtually all types of standard and minimally invasive techniques. Beahm credits the academic medical center's collaborative culture and multidisciplinary approach with putting the skull base surgery program on the map.

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