Tumors of the skull base in children: review of tumor types and management strategies

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Although many treatment strategies for skull base tumors in adults have been reported, relatively little has been reported regarding such therapies in the pediatric population. Skull base tumors in children present a therapeutic challenge because of their unique pathological composition, the constraints of the maturing skull and brain, and the small size of the patients. In this review, the authors examine the pediatric skull base lesions that occur in the anterior, middle, and posterior cranial base, focusing on unique pediatric tumors such as encepahalocele, fibrous dysplasia, esthesioneuroblastoma, craniopharyngioma, juvenile nasopharyngeal angiofibroma, cholesteatoma, chordoma, chondrosarcoma, and Ewing sarcoma. They review management strategies that include radio- and chemotherapy, as well as surgical approaches with emphasis on the modifications and complications associated with the procedures as they apply in children. Evidence for the advantages and limitations of radiotherapy, chemotherapy, and surgery as it pertains to the pediatric population will be examined. With a working knowledge of skull base anatomy and special considerations of the developing craniofacial skeleton, neurosurgeons can treat skull base lesions in children with acceptable morbidity and mortality rates. Outcomes in this population may be better than those in adults, in part because of the benign histopathology that frequently affects the pediatric skull base, as well as the plasticity of the maturing nervous system.

Abbreviations used in this paper:CSF = cerebrospinal fluid; CT = computerized tomography; MR = magnetic resonance.

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Address reprint requests to: James T. Rutka, M.D., Ph.D., Division of Neurosurgery, Suite 1502, The Hospital for Sick Children, 555 University Avenue, Toronto, Ontario M5G 1X8, Canada. email: james.rutka@sickkids.ca.

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