The Jefferson Center for Minimally Invasive Cranial Base Surgery and Endoscopic Neurosurgery reflects three of the current evolutions in neurological surgery. The first of these is reflected in the name of the Center itself. Surgical Procedures, Minimally Invasive, a Medline Subject Heading since 1998, is defined as:

Procedures that avoid use of open invasive surgery in favor of closed or local surgery. These generally involve use of laparoscopic devices and remote-control manipulation of instruments with indirect observation of the surgical field through an endoscope or similar device. With the reduced trauma associated with minimally invasive surgery, long hospital stays may be reduced with increased rates of short stay or day surgery.

Traditionally, cranial base tumors have been removed by making craniotomies or cranial base ostomies, and possibly by removing facial bones. To access these areas, surgeons usually need to make potentially disfiguring incisions in the face and scalp. Sometimes the morbidity from the “open” cranial base approach alone could be significant, even with an uneventful removal of the tumor.

At the Center, the endoscopic approaches are usually through the nose or nasal passages (Figure 1), however transoral endoscopic approaches to the cranial base and cervical spine are also performed. Because morbidity from the minimally invasive endoscopic approaches is so low, it becomes possible to treat patients with tumors that were previously considered non-resectable or as having too poor a prognosis for more invasive surgery. Even partial resection of such tumors can relieve pain, preserve function, and permit earlier adjuvant radiation and chemotherapy.

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