Can problem with Basal Ganglia cause MAV symptoms?

Hi all,

Was wondering if anyone has any knowledge or experience in the area of the Basal Ganglia.

Here’s why I ask:

I have been suffering from MAV symptoms since Feb. 09 and have been diagnosed with vestibular migraine (aka MAV) but have no migraine headache history. I am in a calmer period right now with my most bothersome symptoms being 24/7 disequilibrium, sensitivity to lights and sound and positional vertigo. I have had two clusters of the worse stuff which include rotational vertigo, brain fog, fatigue and all the rest of the stuff we are all so familiar with. :frowning: These clusters were a couple of months in duration of symptoms and then back to where I am now in between.

Ever since I can remember I have had a smaller than a pea size cyst on the left side of my head about an inch above my ear. Over the last 5 years or so the cyst has grown fairly larger (about an inch diameter) but my doctor was reluctant to remove it. (he just couldn’t be bothered) I finally got him to agree to send me to get it removed and during the removal process the doctor remarked on how large it was and that two fingers growing off of it went as deep as my ganglia. (I was awake during the procedure to remove it and heard all the gory details about the size and depth)

This got me wondering if the two things are connected and could the cyst being in the area of my ganglia have caused my symptoms? I have found my positional vertigo has improved ( but has not disappeared) as I can now lay on my right side without getting dizzy and when I sit up from laying I don’t have to wait for by brain to catch up as much.

It was removed a week ago but still is very painful in that area so I suppose it is still healing but I am interested in whether I will start to feel some improvement with my other symptoms or if the positional improvement is just a placebo effect because my brain is being redirected to the pain in the removal area.

I would appreciate your thoughts and knowledge on this.


Reading your post I’m wondering if you actually mean BASAL ganglia as I can’t imagine a cyst growing on the outside of your skull could possibly penetrate the skull, go thru the cortex, and reach the basal ganglia, which are a group of structures of the central nervous system, deep within the cortex, in fact the subcortex, involved with movement. A disorder of the basal ganglia could in theory cause dizziness (for e.g in Parkinson’s Disease). However, the basal ganglia aren’t strictly ganglia, plural of ganglion. A ganglion simply means a group of nerves clumped together, usually in the peripheral nervous system and in fact can actually be synonymous with cyst. So I’m wondering if your doctor was using the term ‘ganglia’ interchangeably with ‘cyst’, and somehow the confusion with basal ganglia crept in. I can’t imagine you would be awake for surgery on the basal ganglia!

Perhaps your ‘cyst’ or ‘ganglion’, being near your ear did have some part in your dizziness but I’d be surprised if it involved the basal ganglia. Let me know if I’m wrong! But the main thing is you’re feeling better!


Thanks for your reply dizzyizzy,

The doctor used the term that it went as deep as the ganglia. I looked that up and figured he must have meant the basal ganglia so I could very well be wrong with that interpretation so that is why I am wondering and asking what it may mean and what is the ganglia.

They definitely did not cut through skull but he did have a difficult time getting it out and remarked a number of times on how big and deep it was and even had a couple of nurses come and check it out. So glad I was awake!! LOL They used local freezing for the procedure. The area of the cyst is still very sore and tender.

If you or anyone can shed some light on what ganglia he might be referring to I would be interested in hearing it and whether it could be the cause of my symptoms. Really, I know only time will tell but it is a interesting new avenue for me to think about.

hello again

I’ve checked in my old Neurology textbook -supplemented by Wikipedia! He may have been referring to the spiral ganglia - see Wiki :

or perhaps the geniculate ganglia of the facial nerve - see Wiki -

Love Wiki!


Thanks Izzy,

This is really interesting stuff.

I have to make a follow-up appt. with the doctor who removed the cyst so I will ask which Ganglia he was referring to.


I also have a lump about 2cm in diameter and growing just above my ear. I only noticed it recently. I’ve had scans etc and was told it is bone growing on bone and is called a Mastiod Osteoma benign tumor. I’m not sure if what you had is the same thing but they called your’s a cyst. I was told that it’s unlikely that causes my headaches/dizziness but I’m guessing the possiblity is there if the bone grows inward as well as outward. I wasn’t offered any treatment unless it becomes a disfuguring deformity. Sometimes I feel like it is causing a pain in my ear.

Sorry to hear about your growth. I think I would advise you to get a second opinion just in case.

Mine was a Sebaceous Cyst which grew on a oil gland under my scalp. It was mentioned on my MRI results but my GP, Neurologist and ENT never ordered any more tests on it and just ignored it. I don’t know if this is going to end up as the source of some of my symptoms but my positional vertigo is definitely improved since its removal. I am waiting to see if there are any other improvements as it heals.

It may not be connected to my symptoms at all, time will tell.