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Skull Base Surgery

Skull Base Surgery

Our Phone Number: 914-493-2363

The Skull Base Surgery Program at Westchester Medical Center achieves superb results treating some of medicine’s most complex tumors, lesions and diseases near important nerves, arteries and critical parts of the brain and/or skull.

The Skull Base Surgery Program is a trusted team encompassing several medical and surgical specialties within the WMCHealth Brain and Spine Institute, a member of the Westchester Medical Center Health Network (WMCHealth). For an appointment, information or referrals, please call 914.493.2363.

The skull base is the bone upon which the brain sits. It separates the brain from other anatomic structures in the head, such as the sinuses, eyes and ears.

The Skull Base Surgery Program team’s advanced treatment is conveniently close to home at Westchester Medical Center, the pre-eminent healthcare provider in the Hudson River Valley and flagship of WMCHealth. Each patient’s treatment is personalized for his/her condition, and the team has improved or saved thousands of lives. These factors, along with the Skull Base Surgery Program’s outstanding reputation and specialized expertise, draw patients from across the greater New York metropolitan area and beyond.

These exceptional physicians include fellowship-trained specialists in the Minimally Invasive Skull Base Tumor Center, who, with other providers, maximize state-of-the-art therapies, technology, equipment and medical research in every patient’s care.

Each treatment seeks the safest procedure through the least invasive treatment approach, while achieving the best possible cosmetic outcome.

Most patients, however, do not require surgical treatment. Many skull base brain lesions can be tracked through imaging such as MRIs. Conditions also can be treated with highly precise radiation therapy that leaves the surrounding brain, arteries and nerves undamaged.

Just as importantly, the team guides patients through this juncture of life with dignity, compassion and educational information at every step. Each member embraces the need for nuanced attention from initial consultation through treatment and every step of aftercare. This personal touch is essential: The Skull Base Program team members care for each patient the way they would care for their own families.

Thank you for trusting the Westchester Medical Center Skull Base Treatment Program and allowing us to be part of your care – and future.

Westchester Medical Center’s Skull Base Surgery team is committed to leading-edge technology and optimizing treatment advances for a variety of brain and skull diseases. For instance, Westchester Medical Center recently installed the most technologically advanced stereotactic radiosurgery machine available, the revolutionary Varian TrueBeam System. This technology delivers targeted radiation with the utmost efficiency.

Among its attributes:

  • Precision: TrueBeam synchronizes live imaging and treatment with pinpoint accuracy.
  • Speed: Treatment is usually two minutes or less, up to 75 percent faster than other equipment.
  • Effective: Shorter procedures reduce potential tumor movement during treatment. That protects nearby healthy tissue and organs.
  • Safety: Three-dimensional images fine-tune tumor targeting in 60 percent less time, using 25 percent less X-ray radiation than traditional systems.

In addition, the BrainPath surgical system transforms how surgeons can delicately proceed through the natural folds and fibers of the brain while minimizing tissue damage.

The eyebrow incision/mini pterional surgical approach, often used to treat aneurysms, is another advanced way to treat skull base issues in the least invasive manner.

When appropriate, less-invasive methods can lead to better outcomes and shorter recovery times. These new technologies and approaches often provide the medical team with excellent visuals of the surgical site.

Skull base tumors, lesions and other disease processes can occur anywhere in the skull and brain compartments. The following areas are typically affected:

  • The roof of the nose and sinuses.
  • The nasopharynx, the upper part of the pharynx, which is the cavity behind the nose and mouth that connects them to the esophagus.
  • The cavernous sinus, a small structure consisting of the carotid artery, cranial nerves and fibers.
  • Meckel's cave, an area that is a conduit for nerves.
  • The clivus, a bony part of the cranium at the skull base.
  • The Petrous bone, which is pyramid-shaped, at the base of the skull.
  • The cerebellopontine angle, which contains fluid, tissue, nerves and associated vessels.
  • The jugular foramen, which is a large opening in the base of the skull.
  • The foramen magnum, a hole at the base of the skull that the spinal cord passes through.
  • The upper cervical spine, which houses the spinal cord. The spinal cord sends messages from the brain to control all aspects of the body while allowing movement in all directions.

Examples of tumors treated by the Skull Base Surgery Program include:

  • Meningioma - which forms on membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord inside the skull.
  • Acoustic neuroma - a noncancerous and usually slow-growing tumor on the main nerve leading to the brain from the inner ear.
  • Cranial nerve schwannomas - which develop on cranial nerves along the portion of the brain called the cerebellum, and the brain stem.
  • Epidermoid cysts - small, hard lumps that develop under the skin.
  • Esthesioneuroblastoma - an uncommon malignant tumor of the upper nasal cavity and skull base.
  • Nasopharyngeal carcinoma - cancer in the upper portion of the pharynx.
  • Pituitary adenoma - often benign tumors that can, as they grow, put pressure on nerves that connect the eyes to the brain.
  • Sellar tumors - including craniopharygiomas, which form in the area of the pituitary gland at the base of the skull.
  • Chordoma - bone cancer in the skull base and spine.
  • Chondrosarcoma - cancer often affecting bone in the base of the skull.
  • Trigeminal schwannoma - a fairly rare cancer detected after facial pain or nerve issues.
  • Trigeminal neuralgia - ongoing pain that affects facial nerves.
  • Glomus tumors - (including the glomus jugulare tumor), which grow in the temporal bone of the skull.
  • Hemangiopericytoma - a type of tumor in the walls of capillaries.
  • Osteoma - a benign tumor in the form of a new piece of bone growing on existing bone, typically in the skull.
  • Fibrous dysplasia - a rare bone disorder in which scar tissue develops in place of normal bone, causing bone weakness.
  • Encephaloceles - a rare birth defect in the form of a sac that protrudes from the head.
  • Cholesterol granulomas (petrous apex granulomas) - non-cancerous cysts that develop on the skull next to the middle ear.
  • Superior semicircular canal dehiscence - an opening in the bone that covers the superior semicircular canal of the inner ear.
  • Nasopharyngeal angiofibroma - an often benign tumor in the back of the nasal cavity.
  • Neurofibroma - a tumor formed on a nerve cell sheath.
  • Brain metastases - which are tumors from cancers in other parts of the body that have spread to the brain.
  • Primary brain tumors - which include glioblastoma multiforme, low-grade gliomas, oligodendrogliomas, etc.

Neurological Surgery (for treatment of the nervous system, including the brain and spine)

Christian Bowers, MD

Neurootologists (physicians treating diseases that affect the ears, balance system, temporal bone, skull base, and related structures of the head and neck)

Katrina Stidham, MD
Cameron Budenz, MD

Rhinologists (physicians specializing in the nose and sinuses)

Deya Jourdy, MD
Ameet Kamat, MD

Oncologists (experts in tumors)

Michael Fanucchi, MD
Christine Pellegrino, MD

Radiation Oncologists (physicians specializing in using radiation to treat cancer)

Chitti Moorthy, MD
Nagwa Saleh, MD

Endocrinologist (physicians specializing in glands, hormones and metabolism)

Monica Schwarz, MD

Plastic Surgery

Elizabeth Zellner, MD

Neuroendovascularists (physicians using catheters and radiology to diagnose and treat brain and spinal-cord conditions)

Chirag Gandhi, MD
Fawaz Al-Mulfti, MD
Justin Santarelli, MD

Neurointensivists (specialists in managing neurology/neurosurgical patients)

Chad Cole, MD
Section Chief, Neurosurgical Critical Care