Imaging of the Skull Base

The skull base represents a bony partition between the intracranial cavity and the orbits, nose, paranasal sinuses, nasopharynx and ear. Imaging characteristics are important in establishing:

• The anatomic location and identity of the tumor.

• The extent of the tumor, especially in relation to the major vessels and cranial nerves, dura and intracranial structures.

MRI and CT are complementary in most areas of evaluation of skull base lesions.

CT is better at detecting calcification and at evaluating the effect of tumors on the bone of the skull base. It can be particularly helpful as part of the assessment of the paranasal sinuses and the temporal bone, and where the tumor is itself calcified. Its disadvantages consist mainly of the inadequately detailed display of intracra-nial structures.

MRI is superior in demonstrating the relationship of a skull base tumor to soft tissue structures, the carotid artery, sigmoid sinus/ internal jugular vein, dura and brain. As far as the carotid artery is concerned, MRA is helpful

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