The vestibular aqueduct: Site of origin of endolymphatic sac tumors

Russell R. Lonser, Martin Baggenstos, H. Jeffrey Kim, John A. Butman, Alexander O. Vortmeyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

32 Scopus citations


Object. Although endolymphatic sac tumors (ELSTs) frequently destroy the posterior petrous bone and cause hearing loss, the anatomical origin of these neoplasms is unknown. To determine the precise topographic origin of ELSTs, the authors analyzed the imaging, operative, and pathological findings in patients with von Hippel-Lindau disease (VHL) and ELSTs. Methods. Consecutive VHL patients with small (≤ 1.5 cm) ELSTs who underwent resection at the National Institutes of Health were included. Clinical, imaging, operative, and pathological findings were analyzed. Results. Ten consecutive VHL patients (6 male and 4 female) with 10 small ELSTs (≤ 1.5 cm; 9 left, 1 right) were included. Serial imaging captured the development of 6 ELSTs and revealed that they originated within the intraosseous (vestibular aqueduct) portion of the endolymphatic duct/sac system. Imaging just before surgery demonstrated that the epicenters of 9 ELSTs (1 ELST was not visible on preoperative imaging) were in the vestibular aqueduct. Inspection during surgery established that all 10 ELSTs were limited to the intraosseous endolymphatic duct/sac and the immediately surrounding region. Histological analysis confirmed tumor within the intraosseous portion (vestibular aqueduct) of the endolymphatic duct/sac in all 10 patients. Conclusions. ELSTs originate from endolymphatic epithelium within the vestibular aqueduct. High-resolution imaging through the region of the vestibular aqueduct is essential for diagnosis. Surgical exploration of the endolymphatic duct and sac is required for complete resection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)751-756
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of neurosurgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Anatomy
  • Endolymphatic sac tumor
  • Origin
  • Pathology
  • Vestibular aqueduct

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology

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