While the nasopharynx is most commonly regarded by the otolaryngologist as a primary site of neoplastic involvement, it is also an avenue of spread of base-of-the-skull tumors presenting as bulging nasopharyngeal masses. The temporal sequence of clinical signs and symptoms may reliably predict the origin of a ventrally extending sphenooccipital chordoma seen on a nasopharyngeal examination. This tumor may cause extensive bony erosion of the petrous apex, sphenoid sinus, and clivus and may suggest a more rapidly growing and aggressive tumor type. The extent of the tumor may be accurately determined by conventional tomography, computerized axial tomography, and arteriography. Several surgical approaches including the infratemporal fossa approach, transoral transpalatal approach and rhinoseptal transsphenoidal approach may be appropriately utilized singly or in combination to remove this tumor in whole or part; however, the rhinoseptal transsphenoidal approach is emphasized and regarded as the most rational treatment plan for subtotal resection, recognizing the usual futility of an en bloc resection with its associated high morbidity.
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