Brain Surgery Through the Nose

Base of the Brain
November 3, 2005

The Department of Neurological Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh has opened a new operating room designed especially for surgery to remove brain tumors through the nose. The "Endonasal Surgical Suite" is the first in the United States.

Brain tumors are usually removed by opening the skull and carefully moving the brain to get to the tumor. The tumor is then separated from healthy brain tissue and removed. The new surgical method, called "endoscopic transnasal brain surgery," does not require the skull to be opened and is especially useful for tumors at the base of the brain.

Doctors who use endoscopic transnasal brain surgery make a small hole in a bone at the back of the nose. A small light called an endoscope is threaded through the hole so surgeons can see where they are going. Once the brain tumor is located, doctors use small surgical tools to remove the tumor through the patient's nostrils.

Brain surgery through the nose has several advantages over traditional brain surgery:

  • Less damage to healthy brain tissue
  • Patients leave the hospital sooner and recover faster
  • Fewer long-term side effects
  • Chemotherapy or radiation treatment can start sooner.
Endoscopic transnasal brain surgery has a good chance of success for benign (non-growing) tumors at the base of the brain. It is likely that as the technology advances and surgeons become more skilled at this technique, this method will also be used to help people with other types of brain tumors.

Visit the Center for Minimally Invasive endoNeurosurgery at the University of Pittsburgh for more information about endoscopic transnasal brain surgery.

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