BMJ Case Reports 2017; doi:10.1136/bcr-2017-220966
  • Reminder of important clinical lesson

Ganglioneuroma of the retropharyngeal space in a patient with glottic cancer

  1. Alexandra Borges1
  1. 1Radiology Department, Instituto Português de Oncologia de Lisboa Francisco Gentil, Lisbon, Portugal
  2. 2Pathology Department, Instituto Português de Oncologia de Lisboa Francisco Gentil, Lisbon, Portugal
  1. Correspondence to Dr Alexandra Borges, borgalexandra{at}
  • Accepted 23 August 2017
  • Published 7 September 2017


We describe the case of a 71-year-old man with a ganglioneuroma of the retropharyngeal space. The patient presented with a submucosal bulge of the left oropharyngeal wall during follow-up examination of a treated vocal cord carcinoma. CT and MRI revealed a non-specific, well-defined retropharyngeal soft tissue lesion. Positron emission tomography-CT did not show relevant metabolic activity, excluding the hypothesis of metastatic nodal disease. Surgical biopsy of the lesion was compatible with ganglioneuroma. Ganglioneuromas are well-differentiated tumours composed of mature sympathetic ganglion cells that account for approximately 1% of spinal and paraspinal tumours. Peripherally, ganglioneuromas are predominantly found in the posterior mediastinum and retroperitoneal space. Only nine ganglioneuromas of the retropharyngeal space have been reported in the English literature since the early 1980s.


  • Contributors AB was one of the consulting radiologists involved in the diagnosis of the present case report, having also planned the manuscript organisation. As senior author, she was responsible for revising it through its several stages of preparation. RBD wrote the manuscript and prepared the figures. DR compiled the patient’s clinical data and selected illustrative CT and MR images. MR processed the surgical biopsy specimen and assembled the corresponding figure 4. All authors read the final version of the manuscript and agreed on its contents.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

Register for free content

The full text of all Editor's Choice articles and summaries of every article are free without registration

The full text of Images in ... articles are free to registered users

Only fellows can access the full text of case reports (apart from Editor's Choice) - become a fellow today, or encourage your institution to, so that together we can grow and develop this resource

Don't forget to sign up for content alerts so you keep up to date with all the case reports as they are published, and let us know what you think by commenting on the Editor's blog

Navigate This Article