During endoscopic endonasal surgery, a neurosurgeon and an otolaryngologist – a head and neck surgeon – work together to enter the skull base through the nose. This minimally invasive technique eliminates the need for external incisions and brain retraction.
By removing the back half of the nasal septum (the divider between the two sides of the nose) and the bone in front of the sphenoid sinus (the farthest back of the paranasal sinuses), surgeons can reach the skull base.
Tumors are then removed with the help of high-definition optics and an endoscope. Finally, the skull base is reconstructed using a flap of the septal membrane – which seals off the brain from the nose – helping prevent complications
The Expanded Endonasal Approach allows access to skull base tumors without the complications often seen with open skull base surgery. These complications include infections associated with large scalp incisions and the side effects seen with brain retraction.
Most patients undergoing EEA spend only 1 to 2 days in the hospital. Recovery time at home is much shorter than for open skull base surgery. In addition, there are many scenarios in which EEA causes less disruption of critical nerves during skull base surgery.
Before this innovative approach was developed, removing skull base tumors required a craniotomy (partial removal of the skull) and drawing back brain tissue. There are still cases in which this approach may be necessary, but for the majority of lesions in the skull base and cervical spine, EEA can be performed.