Schwannomas or neurilemmomas are among the most common neoplasms occupying the parapharyngeal space, yet only 107 cases have been previously reported. Neurilemmomas involving the jugular foramen are extremely rare. Only 55 cases have been reported in the world literature. The neoplasm occurred in the parapharyngeal space in three of our patients and in the jugular foramen in another patient. Of the tumors located in the parapharyngeal space, the nerve of origin in one of them was the glossopharyngeal, which is extremely rare. Adequate exposure for complete excision of parapharyngeal space tumors is best obtained through an external incision and should not be attempted transorally. In the jugular foramen case, the neoplasm arose from the vagus nerve high in the neck and extended intracranially in a 'dumbbell' shape into the posterior cranial fossa. Total removal was successfully accomplished in one stage, by using a subtotal temporal bone resection - upper neck - posterior cranial fossa approach. Surgical removal is the treatment of choice. Schannomas rarely recur following complete excision.
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