Treatment offers reduced scarring, improved tumor resections and shorter recovery times than traditional ‘open’ surgeries.
The physicians with the Piedmont Brain Tumor Center at Piedmont Atlanta Hospital understand the fear and anxiety patients feel when they are diagnosed with tumors at the base of the skull. That’s why when a patient seeks care with them, they pull in a team of experts that include neurosurgeons, otolaryngologists (ear, nose and throat doctors) and ophthalmologists who focus not only on providing leading-edge care, but on improving each patient’s overall quality-of-life.
One of the leading-edge treatment options available to surgeons with Piedmont Brain Tumor Center is endoscopic endonasal surgery for patients with tumors at the base of the skull. Rather than cutting a patient’s head or face, the surgical team is able to thread small telescopes through the nasal cavity and access hard-to-reach tumors. This approach reduces scarring, improves tumor resections and offers patients shorter recovery times after surgery.
“Surgery at the base of the skull has always been a challenging and daunting task because it is an area of complex and vital anatomy with bony confines that significantly limit surgical access,” said Tyler Kenning, M.D., a neurosurgeon with Piedmont Brain Tumor Center. “The endoscope has brought pituitary and skull base surgery into the modern era.”
According to Dr. Kenning, some of the advantages of the endonasal endoscopic technique include greater access to a wider region of the skull base with no need for postoperative nasal packing. This leads to less patient pain and discomfort and improved nasal healing and function. This technique also enables identification of surrounding structures that can’t be seen with a microscope, resulting in potentially safer surgery with improved tumor resections.
“Because the safety of these procedures is so much greater, it is possible to now treat patients with tumors, including those up to the size of a softball, that were previously considered non-resectable or as having too poor a prognosis for more invasive surgery,” said Dr. Kenning. “The endoscopic technique can also be utilized to address a number of disorders of the cranial base, from the resection of benign and malignant tumors, to the reconstruction of skull base defects and spinal fluid leaks, and even to access the upper part of the spine.”
Endoscopic endonasal surgeries represent a paradigm shift from the more tradition “open” cranial base surgeries. As such, they require a new generation of surgical instruments and operative skills. “Now as an accepted and increasingly used surgical approach, endoscopic endonasal cranial base surgery is being performed by fellowship-trained surgeons in only high-volume, focused centers, such as Piedmont Atlanta Hospital,” said Dr. Kenning.
Even though the Piedmont Brain Tumor Center is able to offer the latest evidence-based treatments, they understand that caring for patients with brain tumors is about more than just technology. That’s why the Center relies on a collaborative approach between patients and a variety of caregivers, which can include surgeons from multiple specialties, oncologists, radiologists, endocrinologists and highly trained nurses and navigators.
The integrated team at the Piedmont Brain Tumor Center combines their surgical and medical expertise with their partnership with the MD Anderson Cancer Center to ensure patients receive the most effective and up-to-date care.
Photography by: Piedmont Atlanta Hospital