Baylor Neuroscience Center Opens Skull Base Centers to Treat Challenging Tumors

Baylor Neuroscience Center has announced the opening of a new program dedicated specifically to individuals with skull base disease. The Skull Base Center at Baylor will have locations at Baylor All Saints Medical Center at Fort Worth and Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas, providing a focused approach to treating patients with skull base tumors and diseases. 

Bringing together a multidisciplinary team of physicians on the medical staff that sub-specializes in skull base tumors with other health care professionals, patients will meet treatment team members in one location, where specific treatment plans are developed for each individual patient. 

“These challenging tumors and diseases, located in a very difficult to reach location within the head, require highly trained specialists to treat them,” said Caetano Coimbra, M.D., co-medical director of the Skull Base Center and neurosurgeon on the medical staff at Baylor All Saints and Baylor Dallas. “Our goal is to control the disease process while maintaining maximum neurological function for our patients. To this end, we’ve brought together a skilled team of surgeons that specialize in head/neck surgery; neurosurgery; orbital surgery; and neuro-otology that are committed to providing quality care for patients with tumors affecting the skull base.” 

Diseases of the skull base and skull base lesions can be located intracranially or extracranially and often cross anatomical borders involving both areas. Lesions may include benign and malignant tumors, vascular processes (i.e. cerebral aneurysms, AVM, or cavernous malformation), rheumatological diseases (arthritis in C1-C2 subluxations), pain syndromes (trigeminal neuralgia), and congenital disorders involving the head and neck, sinuses, inner ear, orbits, pituitary gland, upper cervical spine, occipital-cervical junction and meninges, cranial nerves and vessels at the skull base. 

Tedious to Treat
The skull’s base is the area located deep within the head that slopes behind the eyes and nasal cavities, enclosing the brain and separating it from other structures of the head, such as the eyes, oral cavity and throat. The spinal cord, multiple nerves and major blood vessels of the brain, head and neck pass through holes in the skull base. 

“Typically, patients with skull base tumors exhibit few symptoms until the tumor has reached a size large enough to affect neurological function,” explains Dr. Yadranko Ducic, the program’s co-director and otolaryngologist (head and neck surgeon) on the medical staff at Baylor All Saints. 

Once a tumor or vascular malformation has been identified as originating in or extending into the skull base, treating the patient is tedious and challenging because of the skull base’s location and proximity to other vital structures in the head. Skull base diseases often involve arteries and nerves, which adds to the difficulty of treating them. 

In the past, skull based surgeries involved the neurosurgeon moving the patient’s brain out of the way to remove the tumor, possibly causing injury to normal brain tissue. Today’s surgeons, with specialty training in skull base surgery, require minimal brain tissue manipulation to reach the tumor as they use minimally invasive techniques, endoscopic assisted microneurosurgery, and transfacial approaches. 

Advanced Treatment Strategies
At the Skull Base Center, the team of physicians and surgeons on the medical staff can provide advanced treatment for patients with both cancerous and noncancerous skull base tumors. Treatment options include neurosurgery (open and minimally invasive), radiation therapy (including Gamma Knife® and CyberKnife), chemotherapy and a combination of therapies. Treatment strategies are based on the kind of tumor and the needs of the patient. 

One minimally invasive and highly effective treatment available through the Skull Base Center at Baylor is the use of the Gamma Knife. This procedure uses up to 201 precise gamma ray beams to pinpoint and destroy unhealthy tissue, leaving healthy tissue untouched. Alone, these individual gamma rays are too weak to affect brain tissue, but when focused together on a single target, they successfully destroy the abnormality without harming adjacent brain tissue, nerves or blood vessels. 

Also, using endoscopic technology, surgeons on the medical staff at Baylor All Saints and Baylor Dallas are also able to perform minimally invasive surgeries through the nasal passage, lessening the impact to the head, neck and skull and improving recovery time. 

For more information, please call the Baylor Neuroscience Center: 1-877-NEURO 03 or 1-877-638-7603. 

Skull Base Center at Baylor
Baylor Neuroscience Center has opened the Skull Base Center with two locations: Baylor All Saints Medical Center and Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas. Teams at both locations are multidisciplinary, with physicians and surgeons on the medical staff that work together with patients to treat complex tumors located at the base of the skull:

  • Craniofacial plastic surgery
  • Interventional neuroradiology
  • Neuro-oncology
  • Neuro-otology
  • Neuro-ophthalmology
  • Neuropathology
  • Neurosurgery
  • Oncology
  • Ophthalmic Reconstructive and Orbital Surgery
  • Otolaryngology (Head and Neck surgery)
  • Physiotherapy
  • Radiation oncology
  • Radiology
  • Radiosurgery

Contact: Mary Johnson, (817) 922-7088 or Maria Carpenter, (214) 820-4827
Email: maryjohn@baylorhealth.edu or MariaCa@BaylorHealth.edu 

About Baylor Scott & White Health
As the largest not-for-profit health system in the state of Texas, Baylor Scott & White promotes the health and well-being of every individual, family and community it serves. It is committed to making quality care more accessible, convenient and affordable through its integrated delivery network, which includes the Baylor Scott & White Health Plan, Baylor Scott & White Research Institute, the Baylor Scott & White Quality Alliance and its leading digital health platform – MyBSWHealth. Through 51 hospitals and more than 1,100 access points, including flagship academic medical centers in Dallas, Fort Worth and Temple, the system offers the full continuum of care, from primary to award-winning specialty care. Founded as a Christian ministry of healing more than a century ago, Baylor Scott & White today serves more than three million Texans. For more information, visit: BSWHealth.com