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What is an Osteoma?

Osteomas are benign outgrowths of bone found mainly on the bones of the skull. These tumors are slow growing and usually cause no symptoms.

There are two types of osteomas:

  • Compact osteomas are composed of mature lamellar bone
  • Spongy osteomas are composed of trabecular bone with marrow

Treatment is only necessary for osteomas that are causing symptoms.

At UPMC, the preferred surgical approach for removing osteomas of the skull base is the Endoscopic Endonasal Approach (EEA). This innovative, minimally invasive technique uses the nose and nasal cavities as natural corridors to access hard-to-reach or previously inoperable tumors. Benefits of EEA include:

  • No incisions to heal
  • No disfigurement
  • Faster recovery time

Diagnosing Osteomas

To diagnose an osteoma, your doctor will conduct a physical exam and ask about any symptoms you are experiencing. However, most osteomas don't cause any symptoms.

Symptoms of osteomas

When symptoms are present, they vary according to the osteoma's location within the head and neck, and they usually are related to compression of the cranial nerves. Such symptoms may include:

  • Disturbances in vision and hearing
  • Cranial nerve palsies

Testing for osteomas

Osteomas have a characteristic appearance on CT scans. Bone scans may also be used to confirm diagnosis.

Osteoma Treatment

The most common treatment option for osteomas is surgery on the skull base.


Osteomas of the skull base may be approached directly using the Endoscopic Endonasal Approach (EEA). This state-of-the-art, minimally invasive approach allows surgeons to access the tumor through the natural corridor of the nose, without making an open incision. Surgeons then remove the osteomas through the nose and nasal cavities.

EEA offers the benefits of no incisions to heal, no disfigurement, and a faster recovery time.

We take a 360° approach to treatment when evaluating you. UPMC's neurosurgical team will look at your condition from every direction to find the path that is least disruptive to your brain, critical nerves, and ability to return to normal functioning.

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