Endoscopic surgery of the anterior skull base

Laryngoscope. 2005 Jan;115(1):16-24. doi: 10.1097/01.mlg.0000150681.68355.85.


Objectives/hypothesis: Traditional surgical approaches to the anterior skull base often involve craniotomy, facial incisions, disruption of skeletal framework, tracheotomy, and an extended hospital stay. As experience with endoscopic sinus surgery has grown, the techniques and equipment have been found to be adaptable to treatment of lesions of the anterior and central skull base. A minimally invasive endoscopic approach theoretically offers the advantages of avoiding facial incisions, osteotomies, and tracheotomy; surgery should be less painful, recovery quicker, and hospital stays should be shorter. The study attempted to assess endoscopic approaches to the anterior and central skull base for its ability to achieve those goals.

Study design: Retrospective review of 72 cases performed at a single institution from November 1996 to July 2003. A subgroup of 15 patients who underwent endoscopic approach to their pituitary tumors was compared with a similar group of 15 patients who underwent traditional open trans-sphenoidal surgery for their pituitary tumors.

Methods: Patient records were analyzed and information tabulated for age, sex, disease, location of lesion, operative time, use of image-guided surgical systems, blood loss, length of intensive care unit stay, duration of operative pain, length of postoperative hospitalization, complications, and completeness of resection.

Results: Of the cases, 86.1% were performed exclusively endoscopically, and 13.9% used a combination of endoscopic and open techniques. An image-guided surgical system was used in 83% of cases. Hospital length of stay was 2.3 days for the exclusively endoscopic group as opposed to 8 days for the combined group. With the patients with pituitary tumors, operative times were similar between the two groups (255.13 vs. 245.73 min), blood loss was less in the endoscopic group (125.33 vs. 243.33 mL), pain duration was shorter in the endoscopic group (10 of 15 patients pain free on postoperative day 1 vs. 2 of 15 patients pain free in the open group), and intensive care unit stay and hospital length of stay were both shorter in the endoscopic group. Complication rates and completeness of resection was similar in both groups, although the open group had a higher rate of complications related to the approach to the sella.

Conclusion: The study demonstrated the safety and efficacy of judicious endoscopic approaches to anterior skull base lesions. An outcomes assessment in pituitary surgery demonstrates advantages of an endoscopic approach in appropriate cases.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Blood Loss, Surgical
  • Child
  • Endoscopy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Length of Stay
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain, Postoperative
  • Paranasal Sinuses / surgery*
  • Pituitary Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Postoperative Complications
  • Skull Base / surgery*