What does the term skull base mean?

The term “skull base” refers to the bottom of the skull or the plate of bone upon which the brain sits.

The skull base, one of the most complex anatomical regions of the body, is the bony surface beneath the brain which also forms the eye sockets, the roof of the nasal cavity, some of the sinuses, and the bones that surround the inner ear. The skull base also has an opening known as the foramen magnum, which allows the spinal cord and various blood vessels and nerves to pass through to the brain.

The following bones make up the skull base:

  • ethmoid
  • sphenoid
  • occipital
  • paired frontal
  • paired temporal bones

The skull base can be subdivided into the following parts:

  • anterior
  • middle
  • posterior cranial fossae

What is the purpose of skull base surgery?

Skull base surgery is performed to remove noncancer and cancer growths and abnormalities on the brain's underside. At the Cedars Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital, our neurosurgeons offer particular expertise in the procedures available to treat these tumors. Our neurosurgeons use special instruments inserted through the skull’s natural openings (nose, mouth and above the eyes) to operate rather than accessing the brain through a surgical opening of the skull (craniotomy).

Some conditions that can be treated with skull base surgery include:

  • cysts that develop from birth
  • growths caused by infections
  • pituitary tumors
  • meningiomas (noncancerous tumors that grow from the meninges - the tissue that covers the brain and lies between the brain and skull)
  • trigeminal neuralgia
  • craniosynostosis (a condition in which the bones of the skull of an infant close too early, causing problems with brain growth and the shape of the skull)
  • arteriovenous malformations, arteries, and veins that are abnormally connected to one another.

Disclaimer: We do not assume responsibility for the use of the provided information or its interpretation. Our efforts are towards providing current and reliable information; however these should not be considered, or used as a substitute for diagnosis or treatment.

Source: https://www.cedars-sinai.edu/Education/Medical-Library/