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A Journal on Surgery

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Minerva Chirurgica 2001 February;56(1):101-10

language: Italian

The carotid body tumour. Case report and literature review

Pisanu A., Cois A., Uccheddu A., Cagetti M.


The tumour of the carotid body is rare. About 1000 cases had been reported in the literature. It may occur sporadically in 90% of cases and it affects both sexes in the same proportion and in the middle age. This tumour may be misdiagnosed if it is not suspected. Ultrasono-graphy and color-Doppler scan show a hypervascular tumour between the internal and external carotid arteries. CT-scan defines the tumour's extent on the surrounding structures. Angiography is the gold standard for diagnosis, showing a hypervascular mass displacing the bifurcation of the carotid arteries. Sometimes radiotherapy and embolization are indicated but the surgical excision of carotid body tumours is the therapy of choice. The surgical approach through incision like carotid artery operation is performed. If the subadventitial plane between tumour and arterial wall is not identified, resection of carotid artery and insertion of a shunt is required. Although the diagnosis and the surgical technique advances, the incidence of postoperative nerve injury is high in the different series. The clinical suspect and the early diagnosis are very important because low morbidity rate occurs with resection of a small chemodectoma. The surgical excision can be followed by postoperative respiratory depression or dyspnea both with regional and general anesthesia. The authors report a case of a medium size tumour operated on and developing a mild transient weakness of cranial nerve VII. Recent trends in evaluation and therapy are analysed and the literature is reviewed.

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