Object: The optimal management of glomus jugulare tumors remains controversial. Available treatments were once associated with poor outcomes and significant complication rates. Advances in skull base surgery and the delivery of radiation therapy by stereotactic radiosurgery have improved the results obtained using these treatment options. The authors summarize and compare the contemporary outcomes and complications for these therapies.
Methods: Papers published between 1994 and 2004 that detailed the use of radiosurgery or surgery to treat glomus jugulare tumors were reviewed. Eight radiosurgery series including 142 patients and seven surgical studies including 374 patients were evaluated for neurological outcome, change in tumor size (radiosurgery) or percent of total resection (surgery), recurrences, tumor control, need for further treatment, and complications. The mean age at treatment for patients who underwent surgery and radiosurgery was 47.3 and 56.7 years, respectively. The mean follow-up duration was 49.2 and 39.4 months, respectively. The surgical control rate was 92.1%, with 88.2% of tumors totally resected in the initial surgery. A cerebrospinal fluid leak occurred in 8.3% of patients who underwent surgery and recurrences were found in 3.1%; the mortality rate was 1.3%. Among patients who underwent radiosurgery, tumors diminished in 36.5%, whereas 61.3% had no change in tumor size, and subjective or objective improvements occurred in 39%. Despite the presence of residual tumor in 100% of radiosurgically treated patients, recurrences were found in only 2.1%, the morbidity rate was 8.5%, and there were no deaths.
Conclusions: Death and recurrences after these treatments are infrequent, and therefore both treatments are considered to be safe and efficacious. Although surgery is associated with higher morbidity rates, it immediately and totally eliminates the tumor. The radiosurgery results are very promising, although the incidence of late recurrence (after 10-20 years) is unknown.