Glomus tympanicum: a review of 115 cases over 4 decades

Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2015 Jan;152(1):136-42. doi: 10.1177/0194599814555849. Epub 2014 Nov 10.


Objective: To characterize the clinical presentation, surgical management, and outcomes of a large consecutive cohort of patients with glomus tympanicum (GT) tumors managed at a single tertiary referral group over 4 decades.

Study design: Retrospective review.

Setting: Tertiary neurotological referral center.

Subjects and methods: All patients underwent surgical treatment of histopathologically confirmed GT between January 1973 and March 2014. Audiometric outcomes were reported according to AAO-HNS guidelines, and tumor stage was described using the Glasscock-Jackson classification system.

Results: There were 115 patients (90.4% women; mean age, 55.2 years) who met the inclusion criteria; 38 (33.0%) cases of GT were stage I, 51 (44.3%) stage II, 10 (8.7%) stage III, and 16 (13.9%) stage IV. There were 108 (93.9%) patients who underwent gross total removal, while 7 (6.1%) received less than complete resection for advanced disease that was adherent to the petrous carotid artery, facial nerve, stapes footplate, or round window. Two patients who underwent gross total resection experienced transient facial paresis, and 1 had internal carotid injury with stroke. No patients had been diagnosed with recurrent disease at a mean follow-up of 30.4 months.

Conclusion: Surgery remains the treatment of choice for GT, providing a high rate of tumor control and resolution of aural symptoms with a low risk of complications. The surgical approach and extent of resection should be tailored to the patient. Gross total resection can be performed in over 90% of patients; however, leaving a limited adherent tumor remnant on the facial nerve or carotid artery should be considered with advanced infiltrative disease to prevent unnecessary morbidity.

Keywords: facial nerve; glomus tympanicum; middle ear tumor; paraganglioma; skull base.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Ear Neoplasms* / diagnosis
  • Ear Neoplasms* / surgery
  • Female
  • Glomus Tympanicum*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Paraganglioma* / diagnosis
  • Paraganglioma* / surgery
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Time Factors