A novel treatment approach to cholesterol granulomas. Technical note

Eric H. Sincoff, James K. Liu, Laura Matsen, Aclan Dogan, Ilman Kim, Sean O. McMenomey, Johnny B. Delashaw

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


√The authors report a novel technique for the treatment of cholesterol granulomas. An extradural middle fossa approach was used to access the granuloma, with drainage through silastic tubes into the sphenoid sinus via the anteromedial triangle between V1 and V2. Cholesterol granulomas occur when the normal aeration and drainage of temporal bone air cells is occluded, resulting in vacuum formation and transudation of blood into the air cells. This process results in anaerobic breakdown of the blood with resulting cholesterol crystal formation and an inflammatory reaction. Traditional treatment of this lesion involves extensive drilling of the temporal bone to drain the granuloma cyst and establish a drainage tract into the middle ear. Such drainage procedures can be time consuming and difficult, and potentially involve structural damage to the inner ear and facial nerve. An extradural middle fossa approach provides easy access to the granuloma and anterior petrous bone entry into the granuloma for resection. Granuloma drainage is then achieved using shunt tubing in the sphenoid sinus via a small hole in the anteromedial triangle between V1 and V2. Five patients with symptomatic cholesterol granuloma were treated without complication using this novel extradural middle fossa approach. One patient required reoperation 1-year postoperatively for cyst regrowth and occlusion of the drainage tube. At the 5-year follow-up examination, no patient reported recurrent symptoms. Extradural middle fossa craniotomy and silastic tube drainage into the sphenoid sinus is a viable alternative method for treatment of cholesterol granuloma.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)446-450
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of neurosurgery
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2007


  • Cholesterol granuloma
  • Middle ear drainage
  • Middle fossa
  • Petrous apex
  • Temporal bone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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