Familial Cancer

, Volume 4, Issue 1, pp 55–59 | Cite as

Paragangliomas of the head and neck: diagnosis and treatment

  • C. C. Boedeker
  • G. J. Ridder
  • J. Schipper


Paragangliomas of the head and neck (HNP) represent rare tumors of neural crest origin. They are highly vascular neoplasms that are benign in the majority of cases. The site of origin defines the name given those tumors. In the head and neck, they most commonly occur at the carotid bifurcation, where they are referred to as carotid body tumors (CBT). Other common sites of origin are the jugular bulb (jugular paraganglioma; JP), the tympanic plexus on the promontory (tympanic paraganglioma; TP) and the vagal nerve (vagal paraganglioma; VP). Patients with cervical paragangliomas frequently present with a painless, slowly enlarging mass in the lateral neck. In many patients with TP and JP, tinnitus and hearing loss are early symptoms. JP patients often suffer from lower cranial nerve deficits. Evaluation by an imaging modality is necessary to establish the diagnosis. Imaging procedures frequently used include B-mode sonography with color-coded Doppler sonography, computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and digital substraction angiography (DSA). Debate exists in the literature regarding the different treatment modalities for paragangliomas which include surgery, radiotherapy and stereotactic radiosurgery. The role of preoperative angiography and embolization has also been a matter of discussion.The diagnostic work up and the different treatment options for patients with head and neck paragangliomas will be presented and discussed.


cranial nerve deficit embolization glomus tumor paraganglioma positron emission tomography skull-base surgery 


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Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Otorhinolaryngology – Head and Neck SurgeryUniversity of FreiburgFreiburgGermany

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