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The transnasal approach to the skull base. From sinus surgery to skull base surgery

By Martin Wagenmann and Jörg Schipper


The indications for endonasal endoscopic approaches to diseases of the skull base and its adjacent structures have expanded considerably during the last decades. This is not only due to improved technical possibilities such as intraoperative navigation, the development of specialized instruments, and the compilation of anatomical studies from the endoscopic perspective but also related to the accumulating experience with endoscopic procedures of the skull base by multidisciplinary centers. Endoscopic endonasal operations permit new approaches to deeply seated lesions and are characterized by a reduced manipulation of neurovascular structures and brain parenchyma while at the same time providing improved visualization. They reduce the trauma caused by the approach, avoid skin incisions and minimize the surgical morbidity. Transnasal endoscopic procedures for the closure of small and large skull base defects have proven to be reliable and more successful than operations with craniotomies. The development of new local and regional vascularized flaps like the Hadad-flap have contributed to this. These reconstructive techniques are furthermore effectively utilized in tumor surgery in this region. This review delineates the classification of expanded endonasal approaches in detail. They provide access to lesions of the anterior, middle and partly also to the posterior cranial fossa. Successful management of these complex procedures requires a close interdisciplinary collaboration as well as continuous education and training of all team members

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