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Glomus Jugulare Paraganglioma

Last Updated: September 20, 2020

Figure 1: (Top Left) CT demonstrates a typical permeative lucent appearance of this glomus jugulare tumor in the left petrous apex. These lesions tend to be low signal intensity on T1WI (top right) and hyperintense with a salt-and-pepper appearance on T2WI (bottom).


  • Benign neuroendocrine tumor of neural crest origin arising near the jugular foramen


  • Arises from glomus bodies, which function as chemoreceptors
    • Located within jugular bulb, cranial nerve IX (CN-IX) tympanic branch and CN-X auricular branch
  • Classically spreads through the middle ear in a superior–lateral vector

    • May involve CN-VII mastoid segment
  • Arterial supply from the ascending pharyngeal artery
  • Familial or sporadic

    • Associated with multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (MEN 1) syndrome, neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF-1), and multiple myocutaneous neuromas
    • Patients are at increased risk of thyroid malignancy
  • Chief and sustentacular cells within fibromuscular stroma are characteristic microscopic features
  • Neurosecretory granules on electron microscopy


  • Usually afflicts middle-aged and older adults (40–60 years old)
  • Female gender predilection (male/female ratio, 1:4)
  • Common presenting signs/symptoms
    • Pulsatile tinnitus
    • Cranial neuropathy involving CN-IX to CN-XII
  • Treatment: surgical resection and radiation; radiosurgery; ±presurgical tumor embolization


  • General
    • Lobulated solid mass of variable size; often large at presentation
    • Hallmark “salt-and-pepper” MRI appearance
      • T1 hyperintense “salt” due to subacute hemorrhage; T1 hypointense “pepper” due to arterial flow voids (more commonly seen in larger tumors)
      • Adjacent bony changes: permeative-destructive
    • Involvement of middle ear common; might invade jugular vein or sigmoid sinus
  • CT

    • Soft tissue mass centered near the jugular foramen
    • Avid enhancement on contrast-enhanced CT
    • ±Adjacent permeative-destructive bony changes
  • MRI

    • T1WI: hyperintense “salt” due to subacute hemorrhage, hypointense “pepper” due to arterial flow voids (more commonly seen in larger tumors)
    • T2WI: hyperintense, hypointense flow voids (“pepper”)
    • DWI: hyperintense signal that might represent “T2 shinethrough,” hypercellularity, or increased density of axons
    • T1WI+C: avid enhancement
    • MRV: might show jugular vein and/or sigmoid sinus involvement/occlusion
  • PET/CT

    • Avid fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) uptake, which can be useful in metastatic evaluation or evaluating treatment response


  • MRI without and with intravenous contrast, temporal bone CT to evaluate for adjacent bony changes; consider MRV and PET/CT

For more information, please see the corresponding chapter in Radiopaedia.

Contributor: Rachel Seltman, MD

DOI: https://doi.org/10.18791/nsatlas.v1.03.01.20


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