Familial Paragangliomas of the Head and Neck

Thomas V. Mccaffrey, Frederic B. Meyer, Virginia V. Michels, David G. Piepgras, Mitchell S. Marion

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87 Scopus citations


Objective: It has been known for some time that paragangliomas of the head and neck may be familial. Recent evidence suggests genomic imprinting is an important factor in the clinical development of these tumors. In genomic imprinting the imprintable gene is transmitted in a mendelian manner, but expression of the gene is determined by the sex of the transmitting parent. In the case of paragangliomas, the gene does not result in the development of tumors when maternally inherited. The purpose of this study was to determine if this hypothesis correctly predicted the inheritance pattern of familial paraganglioma in a large series of patients. Setting: A retrospective review of case records of the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn, a tertiary referral center, was performed for the years 1950 to 1992 to identify patients with familial paragangliomas of the head and neck. Patients: A total of 38 patients with familial paragangliomas of the head and neck were identified in nine kindreds. Results: Carotid body tumors were the most common paragangliomas of the head and neck (34 cases). Glomus jugulare or glomus vagale occurred in eight cases. In 16 (42%) of the patients there were multiple tumors. Surgical complications, primarily cranial nerve palsies, were more frequent for tumors larger than 5 cm in diameter. Conclusions: An autosomal dominant inheritance pattern could be shown for paragangliomas of the head and neck that was consistent with genomic imprinting. It is recommended that all individuals in kindreds with paragangliomas be screened after the age of 16 years to detect early asymptomatic tumors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1211-1216
Number of pages6
JournalArchives of Otolaryngology--Head and Neck Surgery
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Otorhinolaryngology


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