OBJECTIVE: Jugular foramen tumors are rare cranial base lesions that present diagnostic and management difficulties. With the availability of new diagnostic procedures these tumors have been more precisely studied and questions of whether, when, and how these lesions should be treated often arise. Data from 106 consecutive patients surgically treated in the past 17 years were retrospectively analyzed to identify surgical outcomes. METHODS: The tumors were approached by a multidisciplinary team composed of neurosurgeons, ear, nose, and throat surgeons, and neuroradiologists. Hypervascular lesions were embolized 3 to 5 days before surgery. The same surgical technique was used to resect all tumors. The surgical defect was covered with vascularized myofascial flaps. The internal carotid artery was infiltrated in two patients, and a saphenous graft bypass was carried out before removal of the lesions. The facial nerve was reconstructed with nerve grafts (great auricular nerve) or XII/VII anastomosis in five cases. Postoperative radiotherapy was carried out for malignant and invasive tumors. RESULTS: Paragangliomas were the most frequent lesions, followed by schwannomas and meningiomas. Complete excision was possible in 89% of benign tumors and 80% of paragangliomas. Lower cranial nerve deficit was the most frequent complication (10 patients, 9.4%), transient in 4 patients. Facial and cochlear nerve paralysis occurred in 8 patients (7.5%). The function of the facial nerve recovered spontaneously in 3 patients. Four patients (3.7%) developed postoperative cerebrospinal fluid leakage. Four patients (3.7%) died after surgery. CONCLUSION: Radical removal of benign jugular foramen tumors is the treatment of choice and may be curative. Large lesions can be radically excised in one surgical procedure with preservation of lower cranial nerves. Cranial base reconstruction with vascularized myofascial flaps reduces the incidence of postoperative cerebrospinal fluid leakage. Damage of the lower cranial nerves is the most serious surgical complication.
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