Glomus jugulare tumor
A glomus jugulare tumor is a tumor of the part of the temporal bone in the skull that involves the middle and inner ear structures. This tumor can affect the ear, upper neck, base of the skull, and the surrounding blood vessels and nerves.
Paraganglioma - glomus jugulare
A glomus jugulare tumor grows in the temporal bone of the skull, in an area called the jugular foramen. The jugular foramen is also where the jugular vein and several important nerves exit the skull.
This area contains nerve fibers, called glomus bodies. Normally, these nerves respond to changes in body temperature or blood pressure.
These tumors most often occur later in life, around age 60 or 70, but they can appear at any age. The cause of a glomus jugulare tumor is unknown. In most cases, there are no known risk factors. Glomus tumors have been associated with changes (mutations) in a gene responsible for the enzyme succinate dehydrogenase (SDHD).
Symptoms may include:
Exams and Tests
Glomus jugulare tumors are diagnosed by a physical exam and imaging tests, including:
Glomus jugulare tumors are rarely cancerous and do not tend to spread to other parts of the body. However, treatment may be needed to relieve symptoms. The main treatment is surgery. Surgery is complex and is most often done by a neurosurgeon, head and neck surgeon, and ear surgeon (neurotologist).
In some cases, a procedure called embolization is performed before surgery to prevent the tumor from bleeding too much during surgery.
After surgery, radiation therapy may be used to treat any part of the tumor that could not be removed completely.
Some glomus tumors can be treated with stereotactic radiosurgery.
People who have surgery or radiation tend to do well. More than 90% of those with glomus jugulare tumors are cured.
The most common complications are due to nerve damage, which may be caused by the tumor itself or damage during surgery. Nerve damage can lead to:
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call your health care provider if you:
Marsh M, Jenkins HA. Temporal bone neoplasms and lateral cranial base surgery. In: Flint PW, Haughey BH, Lund V, et al, eds. Cummings Otolaryngology: Head and Neck Surgery. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 176.
Rucker JC, Thurtell MJ. Cranial neuropathies. In: Daroff RB, Jankovic J, Mazziotta JC, Pomeroy SL, eds. Bradley's Neurology in Clinical Practice. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 104.
Zanotti B, Verlicchi A, Gerosa M. Glomus tumors. In: Winn HR, ed. Youmans and Winn Neurological Surgery. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 156.
Review Date: 10/17/2017
Reviewed By: Josef Shargorodsky, MD, MPH, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.