The purpose of this study was to analyze the imaging characteristics of 12 cholesterol granulomas as a function of their clinical symptoms. The results of the different surgical approaches and the management of these lesions are discussed.
Retrospective case review.
Five tertiary referral centers.
Twelve patients managed for a cholesterol granuloma of the petrous apex.
All patients were evaluated via computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging. Eight patients required surgical drainage: through a conservative approach in seven patients (infralabyrinthine, n = 5; infracochlear, n = 2) and a transotic approach in one patient. Clinical and radiologic follow-up without surgery was the mode of treatment for four patients. The mean follow-up period was 18 months for patients who underwent operations and ranged from 6 months to 10 years for patients without operations.
Four patterns of clinical symptoms were noted: retrocochlear signs by an involvement of the internal auditory meatus (n = 8), headaches by a traction of the dura (n = 4), serous otitis media by a compression of the eustachian tube (n = 2), and asymptomatic lesions with no involvement of the adjacent structures (n = 2). Hearing and facial functions were preserved in all the cases treated by a noninvasive procedure. No recurrence or complication was reported in the patients who underwent operations. None of the noninvasively treated patients with cholesterol granulomas showed significant enlargement on follow-up imaging.
Clinical manifestations of cholesterol granulomas depend on their anatomic location and the involvement of the adjacent structures. Aggressive lesions in patients with residual hearing can be drained via an infralabyrinthine or an infracochlear approach with minimal morbidity. Follow-up must be preferred for patients with nonaggressive lesions. Although magnetic resonance imaging provides a specific diagnosis tool for cholesterol granulomas, computed tomography is essential for an accurate evaluation of the location of the cyst and choice of the surgical procedure.