Incidental findings on magnetic resonance imaging screening for cerebellopontine angle tumours

J Laryngol Otol. 2000 Oct;114(10):750-4. doi: 10.1258/0022215001904077.


The otolaryngologist who requests magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans to exclude cerebellopontine angle (CPA) tumours may discover incidental pathologies. We retrospectively reviewed the results of 644 consecutive MRI screening scans with the aim of identifying findings other than CPA tumours. Two hundred and eighty-nine (45 per cent) scans featured one or more anomalies or abnormalities, including CPA tumour (23, four per cent), vascular loop (30, five per cent), basilar artery ectasia (13, two per cent), multiple high signal areas (135,21 per cent), brain atrophy (52, eight per cent), sinus findings (56, nine per cent), middle ear/mastoid disease (34, five per cent), and a variety of other findings (39, six per cent) including clinically serious lesions (11, two per cent). The significance and management of these incidental findings is discussed. The majority were not clinically significant but the occasional presence of a serious incidental pathology should be borne in mind. Basilar artery ectasia and multiple high signal areas may be responsible for the symptoms investigated by MRI, and screening for cerebrovascular disease risk factors in such patients may be appropriate.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Atrophy / diagnosis
  • Basilar Artery / pathology
  • Cerebellar Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Cerebellopontine Angle / pathology*
  • Cerebellum / blood supply
  • Cerebellum / pathology
  • Cerebral Arteries / pathology
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Dilatation, Pathologic / diagnosis
  • Ear Diseases / diagnosis
  • Ear, Middle / pathology
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Mastoid / pathology
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies