Glomus vagale tumour

Dr Henry Knipe and Dr Jeremy Jones et al.

Glomus vagale tumours are glomus tumours that occur along the path of the vagus nerve (CN X). They are a subset of extra-adrenal neuroendocrine tumours that are derived from the nonchromaffin paraganglion cells

Clinical presentation

Typically presents as a painless mass behind the carotid artery. Vocal cord paralysis is a relatively frequent finding (~47%) 3.



Although they could occur at a similar position to carotid body tumours they tend to be more rostral in location and do not widen the carotid bifurcation. They displace the internal and external carotid arteries anteriorly, and the internal jugular vein posteriorly 1.

Radiographic features


Difficult to sonographically differentiate between other lesions that can potentially occur in this location. May be seen as a solid heterogeneously hypoechoic lesion comprising of small vascular structures 3.

  • T1: usually low signal
  • T2: high signal with multiple flow voids which may give a salt and pepper appearance 
  • T1C+: intense enhancement

Differential diagnoses

The differential for lesions in this location include 2,4

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Article Information

rID: 5945
System: Head & Neck
Section: Pathology
Tags: endocrine, cases
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Glomus vagale tumour
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    Figure 1: distribution of glomus tumours
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    Case 1
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