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Skull base surgery. 1999; 9(3): 185–194.
PMCID: PMC1656735

An Update on the Surgical Treatment of Temporal Bone Paraganglioma


In 1982, Fisch described his results for the surgical treatment of 74 paragangliomas of the temporal bone, 5 years after his description of the infratemporal fossa approaches (types A and B). This study reviews the subsequent experience of the Department of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery of the University of Zürich with more than 136 surgically treated cases of paraganglioma of the temporal bone and discusses our current therapy 20 years after the initial description. One hundred nineteen (90%) of the patients had advanced tumors (Fisch class C or C+D), and 81 (68%) had intracranial extension. Total tumor excision was possible in 109 (82%) patients. Subtotal excision was performed in 22 (17%) patients, 21 of whom had intradural tumor invasion. In these cases, the resection was limited not by actual tumor size but by the degree of intracranial intradural tumor extension. Partial tumor excision was undertaken in only 1 patient with a C4De2Di2 tumor. The success rate in preservation of function of the lower cranial nerves was encouraging. Of the 69 patients whose facial nerve status was followed post-operatively, 81% maintained Fisch grade 76 to 100% (House-Brackman grades I and II). Analysis of follow-up data ranging from 2 to 11 years demonstrated 98% disease-free survival when total tumor extirpation was possible. In the patients who underwent subtotal or partial surgical resection there has been no subsequent tumor growth detected by either clinical or neuroradiological evaluation. We have confirmed after more than 20 years of experience that the infratemporal fossa approaches are a safe, highly effective means of surgical management of paragangliomas of the temporal bone, allowing eradication or arrest of disease with minimal morbidity. Limited intradural surgical resection in cases of very extensive tumors can greatly benefit patients for whom complete excision is not an option.

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Selected References

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