Skull Base Tumors

The skull base involves the bony shelf that separates the brain from the eye sockets, nasal cavities, ear canals, and upper neck. Important nerves, blood vessels, and other structures pass through this area.

Skull base disorders present unique challenges to surgeons. Combining a multidisciplinary approach with the latest technology and most advanced techniques, the UT Southwestern Comprehensive Skull Base Program meets the difficult demands of treating skull base disorders.

Our physicians have extensive experience in the latest minimally invasive techniques that have revolutionized the field of skull base surgery. Many formerly inoperable tumors can now be reached using a very small telescope through the patient’s nasal passages, doing away with the need for facial incisions. Surgery can be performed with minimal brain manipulation, thus minimizing complications and preserving normal neurologic and facial function.

In addition, evaluation and treatments are coordinated with specialists at the UT Southwestern Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center, so patients can see all the physicians involved in their care in one setting.

About Skull Base Disorders

The UT Southwestern team is experienced in the diagnosis and management of a wide range of skull base disorders, including:

  • Pituitary tumors
  • Meningiomas
  • Acoustic neuromas
  • Sinus tumors
  • CSF leaks
  • Cholesterol granuloma
  • Chondrosarcoma
  • Chordoma
  • Encephalocele
  • Endolymphatic sac tumors
  • Esthesioneuroblastoma
  • Fibrous dysplasia
  • Hemangiopericytoma
  • Inverted papilloma
  • Osteoma
  • Osteomyelitis
  • Paraganglioma (glomus tumors)

Excellence in Care

Skull base surgery patients can be assured they are receiving the best care possible at UT Southwestern. We are recognized as one of the world’s premier neurological surgery centers with a state-of-the-art intensive care unit.

Our physicians can make precise preoperative plans using high-definition magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT) scanners. We also use image-guidance technology to achieve precise surgical goals. In many instances, tumor removal can be achieved with minimal disturbance to the surrounding normal structures.

In addition, our program offers:

  • Removal of skull base tumors in a combined procedure performed by neurosurgeons and head and neck surgeons (craniofacial resection)
  • State-of-the-art radiation therapy technology, such as:
    • CyberKnife (stereotactic body radiation therapy)
    • Gamma Knife
    • Image-guided radiation therapy
    • Intensity-modulated radiation therapy
  • Ancillary services such as audiology, vestibular testing, and rehabilitation and facial nerve rehabilitation.

Skull Base Specialists

To properly treat skull base disorders, UT Southwestern uses a multidisciplinary team of physicians from a range of specialties, including neurosurgery, neuro-ophthalmology, neurologic oncology, radiation oncology, interventional radiology, otorhinolaryngology-head and neck surgery, and pathology. These specialists develop an individualized treatment plan for each patient and carefully coordinate the ensuing care.

Our program’s physicians are nationally recognized experts in both clinical care and research. UT Southwestern has one of the few fellowship-trained physicians in Texas who has advanced training in endoscopic skull base surgery. The team includes:


Samuel Barnett, M.D.

Samuel Barnett, M.D.

  • Neurosurgeon
Bruce Mickey, M.D.

Bruce Mickey, M.D.

  • Neurosurgeon
Toral Patel, M.D.

Toral Patel, M.D.

  • Neurosurgeon


Jacob Hunter, M.D.

Jacob Hunter, M.D.

  • Otolaryngologist
Brandon Isaacson, M.D.

Brandon Isaacson, M.D.

  • Neurotologist

How We Can Help

Most patients seen in the UT Southwestern Comprehensive Skull Base Program are referred by their physician to one of our neurosurgeons or otolaryngologists. You may ask to be referred to us by your physician, or you may contact us directly for a second opinion by calling 214-648-8300.

All patients with skull base tumors are seen promptly. Same-day and next-day appointments are often available.

What To Expect

When you are seen at UT Southwestern for a skull base problem, your evaluating physician will gather information about your current disease status, your chemotherapy medications, and any treatments you have had to date. He or she will then confer with the multidisciplinary skull base surgery team, and together we will formulate a treatment plan that is personalized to you.