Endoscopic transsphenoidal drainage of a petrous apex cholesterol granuloma using a frontal sinus nasal stent: a case report with long term follow up

Brandon Lucke-Wold, Cara Fleseriu, Haley Calcagno, Timothy Smith, Joshua Levy, Jeremy Ciporen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: Cholesterol granulomas of the petrous apex are benign cysts affecting 0.6 patients per 1 million. The pathophysiology involves cholesterol crystals and lipids that are surrounded by giant cells. The cholesterol deposits induce an inflammatory response likely from acute hemorrhage leading to the formation of a fibrous capsule. The capsule expands over time compressing nearby cranial nerves (VI–VIII), which can cause worsening symptoms. Surgical resection has been shown to provide excellent improvement in symptoms. Historically, open approaches such as the infracochlear, infralabyrinthine, and middle fossa have been used. Herein we present a case showing the feasibility and clinical utility of using an endoscopic endonasal transclival approach for treatment of these tumors. Case: A 44-year-old female presented with history of intermittent double vision, dizziness, nausea, and headaches for 3 years. She developed a partial left CN6 palsy with significant diplopia and episodes of left facial weakness. The worsening symptoms prompted presentation to the ED where MRI and CT scan revealed a left petrous apex lesion (1.8 × 1.7 cm) with hyperintensity on T1 and T2 imaging, suggestive of cholesterol granuloma. She underwent an endoscopic transclival resection of the lesion: drainage of left petrous apex cholesterol granuloma and stent placement from left petrous apex into sphenoid sinus (novel technique). This was done to allow continued communication and drainage of the tumor bed from the petrous apex into the sphenoid sinus with the intent to minimize the risk of recurrence. At the postop visit both 6th nerve palsy and diplopia had resolved. Imaging is stable 2 years after the surgery. Discussion: The placement of the stent in this case was done to prevent symptom recurrence. 11% of patients that do not receive a stent will have symptom recurrence within one year. From the historical literature, only 4% of patients who had stent placement developed cyst recurrence or expansion on follow-up imaging. Stent placement has been shown to prevent cyst enlargement within the first few months after surgery. We demonstrate that the endoscopic endonasal transclival approach provided good visualization of the tumor, allowed for an adequate working window for resection, and provided a sufficient approach for stent placement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)139-144
Number of pages6
JournalBritish Journal of Neurosurgery
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2021


  • Cholesterol granuloma
  • endoscopic trans-clival
  • stent

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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