Skull Invaders: When Surgical Pathology and Neuropathology Worlds Collide

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Skull and dura serve as effective barriers to penetration by most tumors, often preventing masses originating intracranially from extending into the contiguous bone and soft tissues, or those arising in head and neck regions from extending into the dura and brain tissue. We review our 15-year experience with extracranial tumors that had sufficiently invaded adjacent skull, dura, or brain from the “outside-in” to require a neurosurgeon to participate in the surgical resection and discuss our 40 cases in context with the literature. Sinonasal-origin tumors (n = 17) and cutaneous tumors (n = 10) were the most frequent skull-invaders. Most of the cutaneous tumor types were squamous cellcarcinomas (n = 9); diverse sinonasal-origin types included 4 squamous cell carcinomas, 4 adenoid cystic carcinomas, 2 sinonasal undifferentiated carcinomas, 2 sinonasal adenocarcinomas, and single examples each of sinonasal-origin hemangiopericytoma, solitary fibrous tumor, melanoma, mucocele, and teratocarcinoma. There were 9olfactory neuroblastomas, and middle ear-origin basal cell carcinoma,recurrent glomus jugulare, and orbital malignant hidradenoma were also seen. Unique tumors included a cutaneous cylindroma invasive of skull convexity occurring in familial cylindromatosis and a ganglioneuroma of the middle ear with massive bilateral skull base extension. Convexity dural spread, a seldom-reported pattern of dissemination, was seen in 1 olfactory neuroblastoma and 1 adenoid cystic carcinoma. The ability to show skull/dural invasion did not correlate with specific histopathologic features; even benign tumor types can show skull/dural penetration.

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