Surgical management of parapharyngeal space tumors: The role of cervical and lateral skull base approaches | Ear, Nose & Throat Journal Skip to content Skip to navigation

Surgical management of parapharyngeal space tumors: The role of cervical and lateral skull base approaches

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December 7, 2016
by Arturo Mario Poletti, MD; Siba P. Dubey, MS; Giovanni Colombo, MD; Giovanni Cugini, MD


We conducted a retrospective study to analyze the role of the cervical and lateral skull base approaches in the surgical excision of parapharyngeal space (PPS) tumors. Our study population was made up of 34 patients-15 males and 19 females, aged 13 to 73 years (mean: 50.6)-who had presented to us with a PPS tumor during a 9-year period. The 34 cases included 23 benign tumors and 11 malignancies. The 23 benign tumors consisted of 11 pleomorphic adenomas, 5 schwannomas, 2 paragangliomas, 2 Warthin tumors, 1 oncocytoma, 1 hamartoma, and 1 osteochondroma. The 11 malignancies included 3 cases of recurrent nasopharyngeal carcinoma, 2 cases of mucoepidermoid carcinomas, and 1 case each of carcinoma ex pleomorphic adenoma, liposarcoma, lymph node metastasis from nasopharyngeal carcinoma, lymph node metastasis from follicular thyroid carcinoma, rhabdomyosarcoma, and cranial nerve (CN) X neurofibrosarcoma. Among the benign tumors, 14 were removed via the transparotid approach, 3 via the transcervical approach, 3 via the transcervical-transparotid approach, 2 via the petro-occipital-trans-sigmoid approach, and 1 via the Fisch type A infratemporal fossa approach. During postoperative follow-up, 5 of the 23 patients with a benign tumor exhibited facial nerve paresis, 2 developed CN IX to XII palsy, and 1 each developed Frey syndrome and CN X palsy. In the malignant tumor group, 4 of the 11 patients were treated via the transcervical-transparotid approach, 3 via the Fisch type C infratemporal fossa approach, 3 via the transcervical-transmandibular approach, and 1 via the transcervical-lateral petrosectomy approach. The neural deficits observed during the postoperative period were more extensive among the patients with a malignant tumor. We conclude that the transparotid and transcervical approaches were adequate for excising most benign tumors. For malignant tumors, large tumors, and tumors with skull base involvement and transcranial extension, the transparotid-transcervical, transcervical-transmandibular, infratemporal fossa, and petro-occipital-trans-sigmoid approaches were necessary.

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