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Cerebellopontine Angle Lipomas: Report of Four Cases and Review of the Literature

Tankéré, Frédéric M.D.; Vitte, Elizabeth M.D., Ph.D.; Martin-Duverneuil, Nadine M.D.; Soudant, Jacques M.D.

Case Reports

OBJECTIVE : To define the management of internal acoustic meatus and cerebellopontine angle (CPA) lipomas according to their clinical, histological, and surgical characteristics.

METHODS : We report four new cases of CPA lipomas diagnosed in the Department of Otorhinolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery of Hôpital Pitié-Salpêtrière and review 94 cases reported previously in the literature.

RESULTS : Lipomas represented 0.14% of CPA and internal acoustic meatus tumors. Localization was on the left side in 59.9%, on the right side in 37%, and bilateral in 3.1% of the patients. The diagnosis was confirmed radiologically in 33 of 98 patients, surgically in 60 patients, and by autopsy in 5 patients. The most frequent associated symptoms were of cochleovestibular origin, such as hearing loss (62.2%), dizziness (43.3%), and unilateral tinnitus (42.2%). Other associated symptoms involved the facial nerve (9%) or the trigeminal nerve (14.4%). Complete resection was performed in only 32.8% of the patients with frequent cranial nerve involvement. Frequent cranial nerve involvement was seen in 95.4% of all patients. After surgery, patient symptomatology was unchanged in 9.2% of the patients, and 50% were improved; however, new postoperative deficits occurred in two-thirds of the patients. Overall, 72.2% of the patients experienced new postoperative deficits such as hearing loss (64.8%). Preservation of hearing was possible in only 26% of the patients. Only 18% of patients were improved after surgery without any new postoperative deficits.

CONCLUSION : Preoperative diagnosis of internal acoustic meatus/CPA lipomas is based on magnetic resonance imaging. The aim of surgery in these cases is not tumor removal but cranial nerve decompression or vestibular transection, and surgery is performed only in patients with disabling and uncontrolled symptoms.

Departments of Otorhinolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery (FT, EV, JS) and Neuroradiology (NM-D), Hôpital Pitié-Salpêtrière, University Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris, France

Received, May 22, 2001.

Accepted, November 2, 2001.

Reprint requests: Frédéric Tankéré, M.D., Hôpital Pitié-Salpêtrière, Service d’ORL, 47 Boulevard de l’Hôpital, F-75013 Paris, France. Email:

Copyright © by the Congress of Neurological Surgeons