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J Neurol Surg Rep. 2015 Nov;76(2):e253-7. doi: 10.1055/s-0035-1564603. Epub 2015 Oct 25.

Nasopharyngeal Masses Arising from Embryologic Remnants of the Clivus: A Case Series.

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Division of Head and Neck Surgery & Communication Sciences, Department of Surgery, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina, United States.
Deparment of Radiology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina, United States.


Objectives This study aims to (1) discuss rare nasopharyngeal masses originating from embryologic remnants of the clivus, and (2) discuss the embryology of the clivus and understand its importance in the diagnosis and treatment of these masses. Design and Participants This is a case series of three patients. We discuss the clinical and imaging characteristics of infrasellar craniopharyngioma, intranasal extraosseous chordoma, and canalis basilaris medianus. Results Case 1: A 16-year-old male patient with a history of craniopharyngioma resection, who presented with nasal obstruction. A nasopharyngeal cystic mass was noted to be communicating with a patent craniopharyngeal canal. Histology revealed adamantinomatous craniopharyngioma. Case 2: A 43-year-old male patient who presented with nasal obstruction and headache. Computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging revealed an enhancing polypoid mass in the posterior nasal cavity abutting the clivus. Histopathology revealed chondroid chordoma. Case 3: A 4-year-old female patient with a recurrent nasopharyngeal polyp. CT cisternogram showed that this mass may have risen from a bony defect of the middle clivus suggestive of canalis basilaris medianus. Conclusions Understanding the embryology of the clivus is crucial when considering the differential diagnosis of a nasopharyngeal mass. Identification of characteristic findings on imaging is critical in the diagnosis and treatment of these lesions.


clivus; endoscopic skull base surgery; nasopharynx

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