The objectives of neurotologic skull base surgery are complete resection of the lesion and high-grade function following surgery. There is a perception that these goals are more difficult to achieve in children than in adults. Skull base disease in children and adolescents is rare. Of the 292 skull base tumors treated from 1970 to 1995 by The Otology Group in Nashville, 15 were in patients 21 years of age or younger, with only 5 patients under 10 years old. In this retrospective study, the authors review these 15 cases and compare them to their adult series. The pathology encountered in the 15 young patients with skull base tumors included 8 glomus lesions and 4 schwannomas. In these patients, 13 tumors occurred sporadically, and 2 tumors were related to neurofibromatosis type 2. Advanced-stage disease and malignancy were prevalent in this younger patient group. All patients underwent excision of their skull base tumor, with one procedure considered a subtotal resection. As compared with an adult glomus tumor series, postoperative cranial nerve function and complication rates were generally worse in the young glomus patients. However, postoperative function and complications were consistent with the extensive procedures required for the treatment of advanced disease. Despite the advances that have been made in imaging and treatment modalities, this study illustrates the need for more timely diagnosis in younger patients with skull base tumors.
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