Magnetic resonance imaging and the management of parapharyngeal space tumors

Frank R. Miller, John R. Wanamaker, Pierre Lavertu, Benjamin G. Wood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

103 Scopus citations


Objective. The purpose of this study was to evaluate our experience with the diagnosis and management of tumors of the parapharyngeal space (PPS), with particular emphasis on the evolving role of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Methods. A case series review of 51 patients with parapharyngeal tumors who underwent surgical excision between 1980 and 1992 were analyzed with regard to presenting signs and symptoms, histologic diagnosis, imaging technique (computed tomography [CT] versus MRI), surgical approach, and outcome. Results. Fifty-one patients underwent surgical excision of a parapharyngeal tumor of which the vast majority (78%) were benign neoplasms. Compared with benign neoplasms, the malignant tumors were much more likely to be associated with pain, trismus, and a cranial nerve deficit. MRI was able to locate the tumor in 20 of 21 patients (95%), while CT was able to localize the tumor in 32 of 38 patients (84%). Conclusions. MRI, because of its superior soft-tissue resolution and ability to provide imaging in multiple planes, is the imaging modality of choice to diagnose neoplasms of the parapharyngeal space. Because most of these tumors are benign, MRI allows the surgeon to select the surgical approach with the least morbidity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)67-77
Number of pages11
JournalHead and Neck
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1996
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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