Pituitary and Skull-Based Tumors - Graeme Woodworth, MD, PhD, performing surgery

Skull base tumors are lesions that occur deep in the skull. They vary by type and exact location. But when surgery is the chosen treatment, your surgeon needs the most advanced navigation capabilities to remove the tumor with the least disturbance to the surrounding tissue.

At the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC), our Pituitary and Skull Base Tumor Program utilizes an intraoperative surgical navigation system that guides the surgeon with imaging technology, improving precision and accuracy and maximizing patient safety. Post-operative care in the Neurotrauma Critical Care Unit (NTCC) with its advanced monitoring equipment helps our team safeguard patients during the recovery process.

UMMC’s program provides rapid access to innovative therapies and groundbreaking clinical trials for both malignant and benign tumors in a patient-friendly environment.

You’ll be in the hands of a team of experts — ranging from neurosurgeons and oncologists to rehabilitation specialists and nurse coordinators — who embrace a team approach to care. Together they ensure patients receive advanced, personalized and comprehensive treatment.

Types of Skull Base Tumors

While there are many kinds of tumors that occur in the skull base, these are some of the more common ones we treat:

Meningioma – Often benign, these tumors start in the thin tissues covering the brain and spinal cord. They can occur anywhere in the skull including the base.

Pituitary tumors – Most tumors on the pea-sized “master” endocrine gland, which controls the other glands, are not cancerous. These tumors can cause hormonal imbalances and vision loss. Read more about pituitary tumors.

Acoustic Neuroma – These rare, usually slow-growing tumors are usually benign. Because they develop on the nerve leading from the inner ear to the brain, hey can lead to hearing and balance problems.

Treatments

As an academic medical center, our doctors have access to the latest technologies and research to guide their treatment choices — whether it be open surgery or a minimally invasive technique.

Our neurosurgeons are also experts in “awake brain surgery,” also known as intraoperative brain mapping. The technique, used during many brain tumor treatments, enables surgeons to remove tumors that are otherwise inoperable. Patients are sedated at the beginning and end of the procedure but awake in the middle to test neurologic function.

UMMC’s Gamma Knife Center offers patients with some skull base tumors the option for a non-invasive, precise dose of radiation that carries fewer side effects than traditional radiation treatments. For patients with complex tumors, our team also partners with the Maryland Proton Treatment Center, which offers a highly advanced and precise form of radiation therapy.

Recovery

To ensure the best care for patients following procedures, we have developed highly effective clinical pathways to guide treatment after surgery. Our aggressive post-operative care approach, led by a team of physicians, reduce complications and allows for close monitoring of patient progress throughout their stay.

Rehabilitation

Comprehensive neurorehabilitation programs are available at a variety of locations through the Center for Skull Base Surgery in conjunction with the University of Maryland's Post-Acute Care Network. Under the direction of neurologists, physiatrists and specially trained therapists, patients learn to maximize their function and resume normal activities.