Glomus Tumor(Paraganglioma)

Overview

Glomus tumors, or paragangliomas, are slow-growing, usually benign tumors in the carotid arteries (major blood vessels in your neck), the middle ear or the area below the middle ear (jugular bulb). Glomus tumors are most often benign; however, they can cause significant damage to surrounding tissues as they grow.

Symptoms

Paraganglioma symptoms depend on where the tumor is located.

A tumor in the carotid arteries (carotid body tumor) can cause:

  • A mass in the neck 
  • Hoarseness 
  • Trouble swallowing
A tumor the jugular bulb (glomus jugulare tumor) can cause:

  • Bleeding from one ear
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Ear pain
  • Hearing loss
  • Shoulder droop
A tumor in the middle ear (glomus tympanicum tumor) can cause:

  • Bleeding from one ear
  • Hearing loss
  • Pulsing or ringing in one ear
A tumor in the neck (glomus vagale tumor) can cause:

  • Weakness or paralysis in part of the face (facial palsy)
  • A mass in the neck 
Sometimes the tumor affects the body’s norepinephrine, or stress hormone, levels. If this happens, symptoms may include:

  • Anxiety
  • Headaches
  • High blood pressure

Diagnosis

First, you’ll meet with your doctor for a physical exam and to discuss your symptoms. Then your doctor may order imaging tests, such as an MRI, CT scan or angiogram. 

Treatment Options

If you have a glomus tumor, your Aurora neurosurgical team, including the experts at the Aurora Neuroscience Innovation Institute (ANII), will work with you to determine the best treatment for your needs. Your team may recommend a combination of treatments for glomus tumors, including surgery and radiation.

Your neurosurgeon may perform the Expanded Endonasal Approach (EEA), a minimally invasive procedure in which the tumor is removed through the nasal passages, resulting in no incisions, a shorter hospital stay and faster recovery.

A revolutionary procedure

Dr. Amin Kassam, vice president for Neurosciences at Aurora Health Care, explains the Expanded Endonasal Approach, a minimally invasive surgery technique.

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