Background: Meningiomas rarely extend out of their intracranial confines through skull foramina to present as cervical tumors, where they would be accessible to fine needle aspiration (FNA) and thereby create difficulties in cytodiagnosis by mimicking other, more commonly aspirated head and neck tumors.
Case: A psammomatous meningioma arising intracranially and extending through the jugular foramen presented as a mass at the angle of the jaw clinically. On FNA cytology the diagnosis was suggested, but the cytomorphologic features overlapped with those of more commonly aspirated head and neck tumors, such as acinic cell carcinoma arising primarily in a salivary gland, metastatic papillary thyroid carcinoma and paraganglioma (glomus jugulare tumor). These possibilities had to be excluded through correlation with radiologic and intraoperative findings, which showed a dural-based tumor extending through the jugular foramen to assume a parapharyngeal location. Histology of the final excision specimen confirmed a psammomatous meningioma.
Conclusion: The possibility of meningioma should be considered in the cytologic differential diagnosis of parapharyngeal tumors, particularly since its cytomorphologic features may mimic those of some of the more commonly encountered and aspirated head and neck tumors.