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J Neurosurg. 1995 Jun;82(6):1002-10.

Extended anterior subcranial approach for skull base tumors: long-term results.

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  • 1Department of Craniomaxillofacial, Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, University of Bern, Switzerland.


The extended anterior subcranial approach differs significantly from more traditional surgical approaches to the skull base in that it allows a broad inferior access to the anterior skull base planes with tumor exposure from below rather than via the transfrontal route. The authors initially used the subcranial approach in 1978 for the treatment of high-velocity skull base trauma and certain craniofacial anomalies. In 1980 they expanded the indications to include the combined neurosurgical-otolaryngological resection of various skull base tumors. Osteotomy of the frontonasoorbital external skeletal frame provides optimum anterior access to the orbital and sphenoethmoidal planes as well as to the nasal and paranasal cavities while avoiding frontal lobe retraction and the external facial incisions characteristic of transcranial and transfacial approaches. The improved visualization of the anterior skull base and clival-sphenoidal region facilitates en bloc tumor removal, optic nerve decompression, exposure of the medial aspect of the cavernous sinus, and watertight realignment of the anterior cranial base dura. In this report the authors present their experience over the past 13 years with 104 patients who underwent operation via the extended subcranial approach. Because extensive frontal lobe manipulation and external facial incisions are avoided with this approach, intensive care unit and overall hospital stay are reduced, related complications are minimized, and postoperative cosmetic appearance is enhanced. The extended anterior subcranial method is therefore an excellent alternative to traditional transfacial-transcranial skull base approaches for the removal of selected skull base tumors.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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