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Skull Base Surgery


When you face a tumor or other condition that affects your skull base, you need care from a team of specialists with the experience and expertise to treat this delicate and complex area. Choose UNM Health for expert care and advanced technology that helps you achieve the best outcome.

What is the Skull Base?

The skull base is made up of several bones that separate your brain from the rest of the structures in your head, including your eyes, ears and sinuses. It includes a large opening for your spinal cord and many small openings for nerves and blood vessels.

Coordinated, Multidisciplinary Care

Whenever possible, you’ll meet with multiple UNM Health specialists in a single visit so you can get a comprehensive care plan as conveniently as possible. Your team includes professionals such as:

  • Neurosurgeons with advanced training in skull base surgery
  • Endocrinologist (specialist in the endocrine system, including the pituitary gland)
  • Ophthalmologist (eye doctor)
  • Otolaryngologist (ear, nose and throat specialist)

Minimally Invasive Options

Depending on your situation, your surgeon may use a minimally invasive surgical approach such as:

  • Stereotactic radiosurgery – Destroys cells using focused beams of high dose radiation
  • Endoscopic skull base surgery – Removes tumors and lesions through the nose and sinuses

Minimally invasive surgery can reduce postoperative pain and recovery time. 

Skull Base Disorders We Treat

Turn to UNM Health for comprehensive treatment of conditions affecting your skull base, including:

  • Acoustic neuromas and other cranial nerve tumors
  • Chordoma
  • Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leak
  • Craniophyngioma
  • Epidermoid cyst (supra and infratentorial)
  • Esthesioneuroblastoma
  • Meningioma
  • Metastatic tumors
  • Pituitary tumors, including pituitary adenoma
  • Trigeminal neuralgia

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis/Lou Gehrig's Disease (ALS)

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, is a disease of the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord that control voluntary muscle movement. ALS is also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. ALS is characterized by muscle spasticity and rapidly progressive weakness due to muscle wasting. This results in difficulty speaking, swallowing, and breathing. 

Nerve Conduction Studies (NCS)/Electromyogram (EMG) Testing

An electromyogram (EMG) measures the electrical activity of muscles at rest and during contraction. Nerve conduction studies (NCS) measure how well and how fast the nerves can send electrical signals. Nerves control the muscles in the body with electrical signals called impulses. These impulses make the muscles react in specific ways. Nerve and muscle problems cause the muscles to react in abnormal ways.

Epilepsy

We us magnetoencephalography (MEG), which is a functional neuroimaging technique for mapping brain activity by recording magnetic fields produced by electrical currents occurring naturallyin the brain using very sensitive magnetometes, to precisely located brain tissue that causes seizures.

General Neurology

Neurology deals with the diagnosis and treatment of all categories of conditions and disease involving the central and peripheral nervous system and its subdivisions (the autonomic nervous system and the somatic nervous system), including their coverings, blood vessels and all effector tissue, such as muscle.

Headaches

We assess and treat complex headache conditions. Typically patients seen in this clinic have already been unsuccessfully treated with at least two prophylactic agents and have received other extensive treatment from other neurologists or primary care clinicians.

Huntington's Disease

Huntington's disease is a neurodegenerative genetic disorder that affects muscle coordination and leads to cognitive decline and behavioral symptoms. At our Huntington's Disease Clinic we care for patients with Huntington's Disease in a multidisciplinary setting. Neurologists, psychiatrists, physical, occupational and speech therapists and a social worker are available for consultation with our patients in this highly specialized clinic.

Memory Disorders

We asses and treat of patients with disorders such as Alzheimer’s Disease and other dementias including neuropsychometric evaluation. Our Memory and Aging Center is home to New Mexico's top experts in dementia, who provide comprehensive services that can enhance your quality of life.

Movement Disorders

Count on UNM Health for comprehensive care of movement disorders, including Parkinson’s disease, essential tremor, dystonia, tics and ataxia. You’ll benefit from a wide range of experts, such as neurologists who specialize in movement disorders, sleep specialists, psychiatrists, physical therapists and speech therapists. Find the support you need to manage your condition while making the most of your life.

Muscular Dystrophy

Muscular Dystrophy is characterized by progressive skeletal muscle weakness, defects in muscle proteins, and the death of muscle cells and tissue.

Neuromuscular Disorders

We assess and treat a wide array of neuromuscular disorders including: carpal tunnel syndrome, neuropathy, radiculopathy, muscle disease, and myasthenia gravis.

Oculopharyngeal Muscular Dystrophy (OPMD)

Oculopharyngeal muscular dystrophy is a genetic condition characterized by muscle weakness that begins in adulthood, typically after age 40.

Pediatric Neurology

Pediatric neurology deals with the diagnosis and treatment of all categories of conditions and disease involving the central and peripheral nervous system and its subdivisions (the autonomic nervous system and the somatic nervous system), including their coverings, blood vessels and all effector tissue, such as muscle.

Peripheral Neuropathy

Peripheral neuropathy is damage to the peripheral nervous system, the vast communications network that transmits information from the brain and spinal cord (the central nervous system) to every other part of the body. 

Stroke

A stroke happens when blood flow to a part of the brain stops. If blood flow is stopped for longer than a few seconds, the brain cannot get blood and oxygen. Brain cells can die, causing permanent damage. Our Primary Stroke Care Center is the only one of its kind in the state, and we are a regional referral center for comprehensive, advanced care. As the home of the state's most sophisticated Stroke & Cerebrovascular Outpatient Program, you will get timely and specialized care in our clinics.

Sleep Disorders

Sleep disorders are problems with sleeping, including trouble falling or staying asleep, falling asleep at the wrong times, too much sleep, or abnormal behaviors during sleep. At UNM Health’s Program in Sleep Medicine, we provide comprehensive services to individuals having symptoms during sleep or while awake due to non-refreshing sleep. Our trained medical and technical staff is dedicated to the diagnosis and treatment of sleep/wake disorders in adults and children using a state-of-the-art outpatient sleep laboratory, an inpatient sleep laboratory and a sleep medicine clinic.

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