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Acta Otorhinolaryngol Ital. 2004 Apr;24(2):78-82.

Internal auditory canal metastasis.

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Gruppo Otologico, Piacenza, Roma, Italy.


This report deals with 3 cases of internal auditory canal metastasis, an extremely rare lesion, few cases having been reported in the international literature. Since pre-operative diagnosis is fundamental in the planning of a correct therapeutic strategy, it is important that the neurotologist be aware of the possibility of their occurrence in this particular area. Metastasis can occur unilaterally as well as bilaterally; the latter being the case in 1 of the patients described herein. Correct pre-operative diagnosis is particularly difficult in patients in whom the primary tumour has not been detected at the time of identification of the lesion in the internal auditory canal. The only characteristic, specific of metastasis, is the presence of multifocal cerebral lesions. However, these were detected in only 1 of the present cases. On the contrary, in cases of a single metastasis, both magnetic resonance imaging and computed tomography usually fail to show any distinctive feature when compared to the most common tumours of the internal auditory canal (vestibular schwannomas and meningiomas). Bilateral metastases can also be misdiagnosed as neurofibromatosis type 2. Clinical data that should alert the clinician are: rapidly progressive sensorineural hearing loss, followed by onset of progressive facial nerve weakness. Radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy are the two main treatment modalities, while surgical removal is reserved for selected cases of a single metastasis. Albeit, due to the paucity of specific radiological and clinical characteristics, surgical removal is often necessary to reach the correct diagnosis, as occurred in 2 of the present patients.

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