Petrous Apex Lesions

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Getting diagnosed with a tumor in your head can cause anxiety and lots of questions. Is it cancer? Do I need surgery? If it's not cancer, do I still need treatment?

Our experts can answer these questions. They can check your petrous apex lesions and get you the treatment you need.

Treating Petrous Apex Lesions

Often, petrous apex lesions don't cause problems. These lesions won't need treatment. 

If you do need treatment, options include:

  • Watching and waiting to see if it grows (such as for small cholesterol granulomas or fluid in a petrous apex air cell)
  • Surgery that opens the lesion to drain fluid (although there is a risk of the cyst returning)
  • Surgery to remove the lesion

Our care team will create a personalized treatment plan that's specific to your needs. We'll use CT and MRI scanning to check the lesions and watch for growth.

What Are Petrous Apex Lesions?

Petrous apex lesions are cysts or tumors that form in your ear. They aren't usually caused by cancer. Sometimes, a petrous apex lesion is found when you're getting checked for something else.

Lesions of the petrous apex include:

  • Meningioma
  • Schwannoma
  • Paraganglioma (glomus tumor)
  • Cholesteatoma or epidermoid tumors (benign cysts filled with dead skin)
  • Cholesterol granuloma (benign cysts filled with a thick material)
  • Fat in the bone marrow of a petrous apex that doesn't contain any air space
  • Fluid in a petrous apex air cell (like fluid in a sinus)
  • Mucocele (a benign, expanding cyst filled with mucus)

Sometimes, petrous apex lesions happen when a tumor, cyst, or cancer from another part of the skull also affects the petrous apex. These might be caused by:

  • Chordoma
  • Chondrosarcoma
  • Nasopharyngeal carcinoma
  • Metastases of cancer

Where is the Petrous Apex?

The petrous apex is in your temporal bone. That's one of the bones that is part of your ear. The petrous apex is difficult for surgeons to reach because it's close to the middle of the skull base.

Petrous Apex Lesion Symptoms

Issues in your petrous apex can cause:

  • Severe headaches
  • Ear pain
  • Pain behind the eye
  • Pus from the ear
  • Hearing loss
  • Facial weakness
  • Double vision

Petrous apex lesions sometimes get infected. These types of infections may need antibiotics and surgical drainage.