Duke uses a team-based approach with subspecialized otolaryngologists (otologists/neurotologists) and neurosurgeons to determine whether surgery is your best treatment option. Their shared goal is to safely remove the tumor while minimizing injury to nearby nerves that affect your voice, swallowing function, facial function, hearing, and more. Among other factors, your surgical team considers:
- The size and location of your tumor
- Whether the tumor is compressing your brain
- Your symptoms, goals, and preferences
If your tumor is large, you may need an endovascular procedure a few days before surgery to embolize -- cut off the blood supply to -- the tumor. During this minimally invasive procedure, a surgeon makes a small incision and inserts a thin catheter into a major artery (usually in the groin). The catheter is threaded to the tumor site. Then, through the catheter, your surgeon uses tiny tools to block key blood vessels that feed the tumor.
Traditional Glomus Tumor Surgery
This complex operation requires surgeons to reroute a facial nerve to access and remove the tumor. As a result, you may experience temporary facial paralysis after surgery, and you may need a temporary tracheostomy and feeding tube due to some nerves being weak after surgery. Permanent facial paralysis is also a risk.
Facial Nerve Bridge Surgical Technique
To further minimize the risk of damaging the facial nerve, Duke surgeons use a special technique called the “fallopian bridge” or facial nerve bridge technique. With this approach, your surgeons leave the facial nerve in place and navigate around it, thereby reducing the risk of facial nerve weakness. This option may not be appropriate for everyone.