Extirpation of Recurrent Petrous Apex Cholesterol Granuloma Through the Zygomatic Approach: 2-Dimensional Operative Video

Oper Neurosurg (Hagerstown). 2021 Aug 16;21(3):E229-E230. doi: 10.1093/ons/opab156.


Petrous apex cholesterol granulomas are believed to result from blockage of the normal aeration of the petrous air cells, resulting in a repetitive cycle of mucosal engorgement, hemorrhage, and granuloma formation.1 The lesion usually progressively expands causing compressive symptoms. The thick granulomatous wall envelopes various ages of breakdown products, including a cholesterol-containing fluid, which is typically hyperintense on T1 and T2 weighted magnetic resonance imaging. Drainage procedures, regardless of the route (endoscopic, endonasal, or transtemporal), with or without stenting or marsupialization, will only temporarily drain this cholesterol-containing fluid, with consequently frequent recurrences.2-5 A total exoneration of the granuloma and obliteration of the cavity with vascularized tissue will assure a more durable outcome.1 The extradural zygomatic/middle fossa approach provides a short distance to the petrous apex and is purely extradural. By sectioning the zygoma, temporal lobe retraction is avoided.6 We present a case of a 29-yr-old male who presented in the year 2000 with progression of a left petrous apex cholesterol granuloma despite 2 previous drainage and stenting procedures. The patient consented for surgery and photo publication. Images in video at 2:41 © JNSPG, republished from Eisenberg et al1 with permission.

Keywords: Cholesterol granuloma; Middle fossa; Petrous apex; Petrous carotid; Skull base surgery; Zygomatic approach.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Video-Audio Media

MeSH terms

  • Cholesterol
  • Drainage
  • Granuloma* / diagnostic imaging
  • Granuloma* / surgery
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Petrous Bone* / diagnostic imaging
  • Petrous Bone* / surgery


  • Cholesterol