European Radiology

, Volume 15, Issue 7, pp 1310–1318 | Cite as

Imaging and management of head and neck paragangliomas

  • René van den BergEmail author
Head and Neck


Paragangliomas of the head and neck are highly vascular lesions originating from paraganglionic tissue located at the carotid bifurcation (carotid body tumors), along the vagus nerve (vagal paragangliomas), and in the jugular fossa and tympanic cavity (jugulotympanic paragangliomas). Diagnostic imaging can be considered in two clinical situations: (1) patients who present with clinical symptoms suggestive of a paraganglioma, and (2) individuals from families with hereditary paragangliomas. It is not only necessary to detect and characterize the lesion, but also to study the presence of multiplicity. For these purposes, MR imaging, and especially 3D TOF MRA, is the modality of choice. CT scanning is especially useful to show destruction of the temporal bone. Angiography in combination with embolization will mainly be used prior to surgical resection, but can also be used for diagnostic purposes when the diagnosis is not yet clear. Many parameters play a role in the decision to treat of which multifocality and impairment of cranial nerves are the most important. The primary therapeutic option for paragangliomas is complete excision of tumor with preservation of vital neurovascular structures. Resection however, should be balanced against a more conservative “wait and scan” policy or palliative treatments such as radiotherapy.


Paragangliomas Neoplasms Therapy Diagnosis 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Radiology, C2-SLeiden University Medical CenterLeidenThe Netherlands

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