brain scansCranial base, or skull base tumors, are some of the most challenging, complex and technically demanding tumors to treat. Because of the location of these disorders--on the underside of the brain, the base of the skull and the upper vertebrae of the spinal column--they require advanced diagnostic technology and the expertise of highly skilled neurosurgeons.

Penn Medicine's Center for Cranial Base Surgery is the Philadelphia region's premier center for the evaluation and treatment of tumors of the head, neck and face, as well as other complex skull base disorders. Led by a team of specialists from various disciplines, the Center for Cranial Base Surgery is one of the few centers in the nation dedicated to the evaluation and treatment of benign and malignant tumors of the skull base. 

The Center for Cranial Base Surgery has a rich history as a leader in the treatment of these disorders through the use of modern techniques such as trans oral robotic surgery (TORS), trans nasal surgery, 3-D navigation planning, microscopic and laser techniques, and ongoing research studies and clinical trials. With the advent of these procedures, many of these tumors, previously inaccessible, can now be successfully treated.

Highlights of Our Program:

  • Penn Neurosurgery performs over 500 cranial base cases per year and is nationally ranked #14 in Neurosurgery by the US News & World Report.
  • Penn Medicine's neurosurgeons, otolaryngologists, (ear, nose and throat surgeons), radiologists, pathologists, radiation oncologists and medical oncologists provide the best medical, surgical, and therapeutic approaches to cranial base surgery. This team approach allows us to produce high-quality results and better patient outcomes with the least-invasive methods possible.  
  • Penn Medicine's physicians meet regularly at a cranial base tumor conference where each patient’s case is discussed and treatment plans are formulated. 
  • Penn physicians bring new hope to patients through their treatments for both benign and malignant tumors in the skull base, sinuses and brain. Our surgeons are committed to achieving cures while preserving quality of life. 

Cranial Base Disorders

The cranial base is a small, yet highly complex area at the bottom portion of the skull where every nerve that connects the brain with the rest of the body must move through. If you have a cranial base tumor, you may experience neurological problems such as headaches, facial pain, blurred vision, dizziness, or seizures. These symptoms tend to occur when the tumor has grown large enough to press against nerves or the brain.

Penn Medicine’s Cranial Base Surgery team specializes in evaluating and treating cranial base tumors and other disorders such as:

  • Rathke’s cleft cysts 
  • Pituitary tumors 
  • Cushing’s disease 
  • Acromegaly 
  • Meningiomas 
  • Chordomas (malignant) 
  • Glomus (malignant) 
  • Craniopharyngiomas 
  • Acoustic neuromas 
  • Cerebro spinal fluid (CSF) leaks 
  • Malignant and benign tumors in the soft tissues and bones of the head, upper face and sinuses

In This Section

Diagnosis and Evaluation

The Center for Cranial Base Surgery provides the most accurate diagnosis by utilizing state-of-the-art neurodiagnostic imaging and other advanced procedures.

Treatments and Procedures

Penn Cranial Base Surgery offers the latest surgical approaches for benign and malignant tumors in the skull base, sinuses and brain.

Post Surgery

Penn offers a special recovery team to help you after cranial base surgery and to provide a seamless transition to any other Penn program for continued care.

Cranial Base Surgery Team

Given the complexity of many cranial base disorders, the Penn Center for Cranial Base Surgery utilizes a multidisciplinary approach combining the expertise of Penn specialists who collaborate and determine an individualized treatment plan designed expressly for each patient.

Patient Stories

Hear the stories of patients who Penn Medicine has treated through cranial base surgeries.

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