The goal of this paper is to analyze the extension and relationships of glomus jugulare tumor with the temporal bone and the results of its surgical treatment aiming at preservation of the facial nerve. Based on the tumor extension and its relationships with the facial nerve, new criteria to be used in the selection of different surgical approaches are proposed.
Between December 1997 and December 2007, 34 patients (22 female and 12 male) with glomus jugulare tumors were treated. Their mean age was 48 years. The mean follow-up was 52.5 months. Clinical findings included hearing loss in 88%, swallowing disturbance in 50%, and facial nerve palsy in 41%. Magnetic resonance imaging demonstrated a mass in the jugular foramen in all cases, a mass in the middle ear in 97%, a cervical mass in 85%, and an intradural mass in 41%. The tumor was supplied by the external carotid artery in all cases, the internal carotid artery in 44%, and the vertebral artery in 32%. Preoperative embolization was performed in 15 cases. The approach was tailored to each patient, and 4 types of approaches were designed. The infralabyrinthine retrofacial approach (Type A) was used in 32.5%; infralabyrinthine pre- and retrofacial approach without occlusion of the external acoustic meatus (Type B) in 20.5%; infralabyrinthine pre- and retrofacial approach with occlusion of the external acoustic meatus (Type C) in 41%; and the infralabyrinthine approach with transposition of the facial nerve and removal of the middle ear structures (Type D) in 6% of the patients.
Radical removal was achieved in 91% of the cases and partial removal in 9%. Among 20 patients without preoperative facial nerve dysfunction, the nerve was kept in anatomical position in 19 (95%), and facial nerve function was normal during the immediate postoperative period in 17 (85%). Six patients (17.6%) had a new lower cranial nerve deficit, but recovery of swallowing function was adequate in all cases. Voice disturbance remained in all 6 cases. Cerebrospinal fluid leakage occurred in 6 patients (17.6%), with no need for reoperation in any of them. One patient died in the postoperative period due to pulmonary complications. The global recovery, based on the Karnofsky Performance Scale (KPS), was 100% in 15% of the patients, 90% in 45%, 80% in 33%, and 70% in 6%.
Radical removal of glomus jugulare tumor can be achieved without anterior transposition of the facial nerve. The extension of dissection, however, should be tailored to each case based on tumor blood supply, preoperative symptoms, and tumor extension. The operative field provided by the retrofacial infralabyrinthine approach, or the pre- and retrofacial approaches, with or without closure of the external acoustic meatus, allows a wide exposure of the jugular foramen area. Global functional recovery based on the KPS is acceptable in 94% of the patients.