Skip to main content

Health Encyclopedia

Search the Health Encyclopedia

Glomus jugulare tumor

Definition

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.

Alternative Names

Paraganglioma - glomus jugulare

Causes

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

Symptoms may include:

  • Difficulty swallowing (dysphagia)
  • Dizziness
  • Hearing problems or loss
  • Hearing pulsations in the ear
  • Hoarseness
  • Pain
  • Weakness or loss of movement in the face (facial nerve palsy)

Exams and Tests

Glomus jugulare tumors are diagnosed by a physical exam and imaging tests, including:

Treatment

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.

Outlook (Prognosis)

People who have surgery or radiation tend to do well. More than 90% of those with glomus jugulare tumors are cured.

Possible Complications

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:

  • Change in voice
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Hearing loss
  • Paralysis of the face

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your health care provider if you:

  • Are having difficulty with hearing or swallowing
  • Develop pulsations in your ear
  • Notice a lump in your neck
  • Notice any problems with the muscles in your face

References

Marsh M, Jenkins HA. Temporal bone neoplasms and lateral cranial base surgery. In: Flint PW, Haughey BH, Lund VJ, et al, eds. Cummings Otolaryngology: Head & 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.

Review Date:10/30/2015
Reviewed By:Sumana Jothi, MD, specialist in laryngology, Clinical Instructor UCSF Otolaryngology, NCHCS VA, SFVA, San Francisco, CA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, 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.

adam.com

The Agency for Health Care Administration (Agency) and this website do not claim the information on, or referred to by, this site is error free. This site may include links to websites of other government agencies or private groups. Our Agency and this website do not control such sites and are not responsible for their content. Reference to or links to any other group, product, service, or information does not mean our Agency or this website approves of that group, product, service, or information.

Additionally, while health information provided through this website may be a valuable resource for the public, it is not designed to offer medical advice. Talk with your doctor about medical care questions you may have.

Health
Outcome Data

No data available for this condition/procedure.

Health Encyclopedia

More Features

We Appreciate Your Feedback!
1. Did you find this information useful?
         Yes
         No
2. Would you recommend this website to family and friends?
         Yes
         No