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A Journal on Otorhinolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery,
Plastic Reconstructive Surgery, Otoneurosurgery

Indexed/Abstracted in: EMBASE, Scopus




Otorinolaringologia 2000 June;50(2):117-9

language: Italian

Carotid body tumor. Report of a case diagnosed by fine needle aspiration (FNA) cytology

Borghi L., Ballotta M. R., Bianchini E., Ravasi A. *

Ospedale Civile - Rovigo Unità Operativa di Anatomia Patologica
*Unità Operativa Otorinolaringoiatria


Carotid body tumors (paragangliomas) are rare neoplasms occurring within the paraganglia of the autonomous nervous system. Carotid body paragangliomas are usually found at the level of the carotid artery bifurcation and may be intimately associated with either one or both branches. Other locations include nasal, vagal, orbital and jugulotympanic areas. Most paragangliomas follow a benign course; the incidence of malignancy is only about 10%. The paragangliomas can occur at almost any age, with an average of 45 years, manifesting as slowly growing, painless neck masses that are usually asymptomatic. There is an equal sex incidence. We wish to describe a case in which the fine needle aspiration (FNA) has been used for the diagnosis of this tumour is described. The FNA smears are bloody and contain scanty cells with oval to round nuclei and finely granular chromatin. Better-preserved cells showed small eosinophilic nucleoli and a moderate amount of eosinophilic, finely granular, cytoplasm with indistinct borders. Cells are dispersed or in small, loose dusters. Moderate anisokaryocytosis was observed, no mitoses were present. On the basis of these cytomorphologic features and taking into consideration the site of the swelling, a cytodiagnosis of carotid body tumor was made. This cytologic diagnosis was confirmed later by microscopic examination of the resected tumor.

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