MR imaging of paragangliomas

AJR Am J Roentgenol. 1987 Jan;148(1):201-4. doi: 10.2214/ajr.148.1.201.


MR imaging of 15 paragangliomas in 10 patients was compared with CT of 13 of the lesions in eight patients. All lesions were confirmed with angiography. All lesions were detected by MR and CT with the exception of one small glomus tympanicum tumor that was seen only in retrospect with MR. CT better demonstrated subtle osseous changes of the skull base and the relation of the tumor to the middle ear structures. MR better demonstrated the relation of the tumor to the adjacent internal jugular vein and carotid artery. The paragangliomas had a characteristic MR appearance based on their vascularity. Serpiginous areas of signal void representing high vascular flow were interspersed among areas of high signal intensity caused by slowly flowing blood and tumor cells. This "salt-and-pepper" pattern was seen in all lesions greater than 2 cm in maximal dimension. MR was therefore able to accurately characterize the tumors as highly vascular. Multiplanar imaging and good tissue contrast and anatomic detail permitted display of the relations of these neoplasms to surrounding carotid sheath vessels and to intracranial structures better than did CT. In this experience, the MR appearance of paragangliomas was quite characteristic and differed markedly from meningiomas, neuromas, and metastatic disease of the skull base.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Carotid Body Tumor / diagnosis*
  • Glomus Jugulare Tumor / diagnosis*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy*
  • Paraganglioma, Extra-Adrenal / diagnosis*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed