Navigate Up

Full Library - A-Z Index


Print This Page

Glomus tympanum tumor

A glomus tympanum tumor is a tumor of the middle ear and bone behind the ear (mastoid).

Alternative Names

Paraganglioma - glomus tympanum

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

A glomus tympanum tumor grows in the temporal bone of the skull, behind the ear drum (tympanic membrane).

This area contains nerve fibers (glomus bodies) that normally respond to changes in body temperature or blood pressure.

These tumors usually occur late in life, around age 60 or 70, but they can appear at any age.

The cause of a glomus tympanum tumor is unknown. Usually, there are no known risk factors. Glomus tumors have been associated with changes (mutations) in a gene responsible for the enzyme succinate dehydrogenase (SDHD).

Symptoms

  • Hearing problems or loss
  • Ringing in the ear (pulsatile tinnitus )
  • Weakness or loss of movement in the face (facial nerve palsy)

Signs and tests

Glomus tympanum tumors are diagnosed by a physical examination. They may be seen in the ear or behind the ear drum.

Diagnosis also involves scans, including:

Treatment

Glomus tympanum tumors are rarely cancerous and do not tend to spread to other parts of the body. However, treatment may be needed to relieve symptoms.

Expectations (prognosis)

Patients who have surgery tend to do well. More than 90% of people with glomus tympanum tumors are cured.

Complications

The most common complication is hearing loss.

Nerve damage, which may be caused by the tumor itself or damage during surgery, rarely occurs. Nerve damage can lead to facial paralysis .

Calling your health care provider

Call your health care provider if you notice:

  • Difficulty with hearing or swallowing
  • Problems with the muscles in your face
  • Pulsing sensation in your ear

References

Rucker JC. Cranial neuropathies. In: Bradley WG, Daroff RB, Fenichel GM, Jankovic J. Neurology in Clinical Practice. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 74.

Marsh M, Jenkins H. Temporal bone neoplasms and lateral cranial base surgery. In: Cummings CW, Flint PW, Haughey BH, et al. Otolaryngology: Head & Neck Surgery. 4th ed. St. Louis, Mo: Mosby; 2005:chap 162.

Updated: 3/14/2012

David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; and Seth Schwartz, MD, MPH, Otolaryngologist, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.


©  UPMC | Affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
Supplemental content provided by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions. All rights reserved.

For help in finding a doctor or health service that suits your needs, call the UPMC Referral Service at 412-647-UPMC (8762) or 1-800-533-UPMC (8762). Select option 1.

UPMC is an equal opportunity employer. UPMC policy prohibits discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, sex, genetics, sexual orientation, marital status, familial status, disability, veteran status, or any other legally protected group status. Further, UPMC will continue to support and promote equal employment opportunity, human dignity, and racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity. This policy applies to admissions, employment, and access to and treatment in UPMC programs and activities. This commitment is made by UPMC in accordance with federal, state, and/or local laws and regulations.

Medical information made available on UPMC.com is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely entirely on this information for your health care needs. Ask your own doctor or health care provider any specific medical questions that you have. Further, UPMC.com is not a tool to be used in the case of an emergency. If an emergency arises, you should seek appropriate emergency medical services.

For UPMC Mercy Patients: As a Catholic hospital, UPMC Mercy abides by the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, as determined by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. As such, UPMC Mercy neither endorses nor provides medical practices and/or procedures that contradict the moral teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.

© UPMC
Pittsburgh, PA, USA UPMC.com