Clival Chordoma: A Rare Skull Base Tumor

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Clival Chordoma: A Rare Skull Base Tumor

What is Clival Chordoma?

Clival chordoma is a rare type of bone tumor that develops in the clivus, a bony structure at the base of the skull. It originates from remnants of the notochord, a flexible rod that supports the embryo during development. While these tumors typically grow slowly, they are locally invasive and can be challenging to treat due to their proximity to critical nerves and blood vessels.

Symptoms of Clival Chordoma

The symptoms of clival chordoma vary depending on the size and location of the tumor. Some common symptoms include:

  • Double vision: This is often the most noticeable initial symptom.
  • Headaches
  • Facial numbness or tingling
  • Hearing loss
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Neck pain
  • Pituitary gland dysfunction (resulting in hormonal imbalances)

It’s important to note that these symptoms can also be associated with other conditions, so a thorough medical evaluation is crucial for accurate diagnosis.


Diagnosing clival chordoma involves a combination of:

  • Medical history and physical examination: The doctor will inquire about symptoms and conduct a neurological exam to assess cranial nerve function.
  • Imaging studies: MRI scans are the primary imaging tool used to visualize the tumor and assess its extent. CT scans may also be used for further evaluation.
  • Biopsy: In some cases, a biopsy may be performed to confirm the diagnosis and determine the specific type of chordoma.

Treatment Options

Treatment for clival chordoma typically involves a multidisciplinary approach that includes:

  • Surgery: The goal of surgery is to remove as much of the tumor as possible while preserving vital structures. Various surgical approaches may be used, including endoscopic endonasal surgery and open craniotomy.
  • Radiation therapy: This may be used after surgery to target any remaining tumor cells and reduce the risk of recurrence.
  • Proton therapy: This newer form of radiation therapy offers more precise targeting of the tumor, potentially reducing side effects.

The choice of treatment will depend on various factors, including the size and location of the tumor, the patient’s overall health, and the preferences of the medical team.

Prognosis and Follow-Up Care

The prognosis for clival chordoma varies based on several factors, including the extent of the tumor, the success of surgery, and the individual’s response to treatment.

Regular follow-up care is essential for monitoring for tumor recurrence and managing any long-term side effects of treatment. This typically involves imaging studies and neurological examinations.

Additional Information

If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with clival chordoma, it is important to seek care from a specialized medical team with experience in treating skull base tumors. Support groups and online resources can also provide valuable information and emotional support for patients and their families.

Disclaimer: This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered a substitute for professional medical advice.

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