Anterior transcranial (craniofacial) resection of tumors of the paranasal sinuses: Surgical technique and results

Ian E. McCutcheon, J. Bob Blacklock, Randal S. Weber, Franco DeMonte, Richard P. Moser, Matthew Byers, Helmuth Goepfert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

128 Scopus citations


TRANSFACIAL APPROACHES, TRADITIONALLY used for malignant tumors of the paranasal sinuses, provide limited exposure when several sinuses are involved and are unsuitable for tumors that erode through the floor of the anterior cranial fossa. A transcranial approach may aid in the removal of such lesions. To better understand the risks and benefits of this surgical approach, we reviewed all patients (n = 76) who underwent a transcranial approach as part of the excision of paranasal sinus lesions between 1984 and 1993 at our institution. The spectrum of disease included adenocarcinoma (13 patients), squamous cell carcinoma and olfactory neuroblastoma (11 patients each), adenoid cystic carcinoma and poorly differentiated forms of carcinoma (6 patients each), melanoma (5 patients), and miscellaneous others (24 patients). Most patients had ethmoid sinus involvement; tumors were also commonly found in the cribriform plate, sphenoid sinus, and nasal fossa. In each patient, a bifrontal craniotomy was performed with extradural dissection to the floor of the anterior fossa and osteotomies for resection of involved elements. In 47 patients (62%), disease in the orbit, the anterior nasal cavity, or the soft tissues of the face required transfacial as well as transcranial resections. Bony defect in the anterior fossa floor was repaired with a pedicled pericranial flap. Patients with major complications included six patients with epipericranial and/or epidural hematomas requiring evacuation, three with transient cerebrospinal fluid leaks, two who developed bifrontal cerebral infarcts, and one who died soon after surgery. No meningitis was seen. To date, 26 patients (34%) have died; of those living (mean follow-up, 34 mo), 42 (84%) remain in full remission. The transcranial approach can achieve removal of erosive, invasive tumors from this area with predictable morbidity and may be considered whenever sinus tumors breach the anterior cranial base or extend beyond the reach of conventional transfacial approaches.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)471-480
Number of pages10
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1996


  • Anterior cranial base
  • Craniofacial surgery
  • Craniotomy
  • Paranasal sinus neoplasm

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Surgery


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