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"inferior olivary nucleus"

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On Friday I received a copy of the letter a Neuro-Otology registrar sent about me to a neurologist and my GP. This letter said that the MRI scan I had in May 2014 showed an "expansion of the inferior olivary nucleus infratentorially" - first I knew of it! I looked on the internet but am not really any wiser - what I found is too technical for me. I will ask a neurologist when (if) I eventually see one, but has anyone else been told they have this and, more importantly, what it might mean?



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Hi Norima

Really sorry cant help you on this. I have never heard of 'expansion of the inferior olivary nucleus infratentorially ' and like you tried to look it up and also none the wiser !

For peace of mind I would give your Neurologist's secretary a call and book an appointment rather than waiting for your next scan, so they can explain to you what it means.

Good luck & keep in touch xx

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Sorry Norima,


Not got a clue as its all alien to me, have you got Surgeons nurses telephone No.

so you can ring them or ask Doc ??


Do not stress (easy for me to say) as it isn't good for you (my surgeon told me that)


Good luck and hope you get a quick reply xx


Best Wishes

Win xx xx

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Welcome to BTG Norima,


Now don't hold me to this, but a similar phrase with the word 'olivary' was used to explain to me some of what had happened, but I'm not sure I understood it fully, or at all really.


Sometimes I think these guys use this kind of language to justify their own existence, a bit like they do in all of the professions.  I can't remember the exact words but I remember the word 'olivary' because it was so unusual.


Maybe the expansion bit refers to it growing in size but I am only guessing. I have no idea about 'infratentorially.'


Olivary, I believe but cannot be certain, means a swelling of up to olive size on something else - so it cannot exist without a host ie an organ or an artery and the nerves/blood supply that go to it are not distinguishable from those of the host.  In other words it is not an entity in its own right, it's an imperfection of the main organ, bit of a parasite or a growth, in layman's terms, I suppose.   


That's all I remember, and as my memory isn't the sharpest around the time I was ill, I was in two minds whether to say anything at all and I might be wrong.


I'm not sure I am right, but when you get answer from your doctor, I'd love to know if I'm anywhere near.


I've never heard of this term before or since until you came along.  


These things, I find, can often be explained in plain English, if only they'd try a bit more!


I hope you find the answer you are looking for and share it with us.


Best wishes,



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The olivary nucleus is a brain region.  The inferior olivary nucleus is a specific part of the olivary nucleus.  It is involved with motor control and is in very close communication with the cerebellum in this regard.  it is part of the medulla which is part of the brain stem.


The infratentorial is part of the cerebellum itself so what it is saying is just that this part of the olivary nucleus was enlarged towards the cerebellum area.  It is purely descriptive.  It has no words that you need to worry about.  Why is this enlarged?  It could be just a natural state of you.  It could not even mean anything of note.  Ask your neurologist or neurosurgeon to clarify for you.  They can tell you if the note was just an observation or if they were concerned.


I had part of my cerebellum extending down my spinal column.  This made sense to me as I am a cellist and need extra space for all those small motor associations.  They do note everything they find even if has no barring on the SAH occurrence.


Know this, if it was of grave concern, you'd know it by now.  They'd be treating it.  They'd be discussing it.  You would know.  Since you have no idea, it is most likely not anything to add to your worry list.  Recovering is all you need to be concerned with and they told you about that if it wasn't obvious to you anyway.  They don't send people on their way with a life threatening condition without some kind of discussion about that condition.  But sure, ask your doctor at your next appointment, it is nice to learn something about your uniqueness.



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