The Peter O’Donnell Jr. Brain Institute brings together transformative research and patient-centered care to improve the lives of patients today and those of generations to come.
Peter O'Donnell Jr. Brain Institute
UT Southwestern Medical Center’s Comprehensive Skull Base Program provides exceptional treatment for rare and complex skull base disorders such as cholesterol granuloma, combining a multidisciplinary approach with the latest techniques and technology.
Patients with cholesterol granuloma have access to a world-class neurological surgery center with the latest imaging services and minimally invasive techniques.
Expertise and Experience in Rare Conditions
Cholesterol granuloma is a rare inflammatory lesion that develops in the central skull base and causes progressive thinning of surrounding bone and other nearby structures. The lesion typically forms when blood from bone marrow leaks into a nearby air cell. The trapped blood eventually breaks down and generates significant inflammation, resulting in a buildup of fluid in the air cell. This fluid-filled lesion slowly expands over time.
Specialists at UT Southwestern are experts in applying the latest in image guidance and microsurgical techniques to treat cholesterol granulomas while preserving quality of life for each patient.
Some cholesterol granulomas produce no symptoms. Symptoms of cholesterol granulomas are caused by compression of nearby nerves and erosion of surrounding structures, such as the inner ear or auditory canal. Those symptoms can include:
- Double vision
- Facial numbness or pain
- Facial twitching or weakness
- Hearing loss
Cholesterol granulomas can be difficult to diagnose because they resemble other types of lesions. At UT Southwestern, physicians perform a series of tests to make an accurate diagnosis, such as:
- A physical examination, including an otoscope examination of the eardrum
- A hearing assessment
- Imaging scans of the head, such as magnetic resonance
imaging (MRI) or
computed tomography (CT)
Treatment for Cholesterol Granulomas
For cholesterol granulomas with no symptoms, treatment might not be required. Instead, physicians will monitor the lesion with serial MRI or CT scans.
For symptomatic cholesterol granulomas, our physicians will drain the lesion. The drainage can be done via endoscope, either through the nose or ear, depending on a patient’s anatomy. If the lesion can’t be adequately drained using this minimally invasive technique, surgical excision of the lesion might be required.
Clinical Trials and Research
Patients with rare or complex skull base disorders such as cholesterol granuloma also benefit from the leading research conducted at UT Southwestern, which often includes clinical trials offered at few other centers in the country and helps speed better treatment to patients.