A carotid body tumour, also known as a chemodectoma or paraganglioma, is a tumour that develops in the upper region of the neck where the two carotid arteries, which transport blood from the heart to the brain, branch into smaller blood vessels. The carotid body refers to the cells that surround that location.
Carotid body tumours are uncommon and seldom fatal, although they may expand and impinge on adjacent nerves and blood arteries.
What are the warning signs of a carotid body tumour?
Initially, this sort of tumour may not create any symptoms, but it may be felt as a painless lump on the side of your neck.
As the size of a carotid body tumour increases, it may induce symptoms such as:
- Swallowing Difficulties
- Blood pressure is too high.
- Numbness in the tongue
- Palpitations, or feelings of your heart beating or fluttering in your chest
Tests The first step in formulating a treatment strategy is to diagnose a carotid body tumour.
An angiography is a special X-ray taken while a particular dye is administered via a thin, flexible tube called a catheter to identify blockages or aneurysms in blood arteries.
Ultrasound of the carotid arteries
Carotid duplex ultrasound assesses blood flow in the arteries that provide blood to your brain using Doppler and conventional ultrasonography.
Carotid Body Tumor Surgery
A carotid body tumour is removed during surgery, and any damage to the carotid artery is repaired. Before the surgery, a technique known as embolization may be conducted. In general, the surgical treatments are quite safe and have favourable results.
The operation is performed in a highly sensitive location, not only near the essential carotid artery that provides blood to the brain, but also very close to the vagus nerve, the facial nerve, and the hypoglossal nerve, which controls the tongue. The operation should only be performed by highly qualified neurosurgeons who are well-versed in this method.
Transcatheter embolization is performed a few days before surgery. A neurosurgeon or interventional neuroradiologist will inject a dye into a patient to help locate the damaged blood arteries, and then execute an embolization to cut off the tumor’s blood supply. Embolization is the process of preventing blood flow by adding a form of adhesive or specific particles.
After the embolization, the tumour is surgically removed (also known as surgical resection). To remove the tumour, the neurosurgeon creates an incision in the neck and conducts an open surgical surgery. During the procedure, the patient may need a temporary shunt to transport blood via the carotid artery.
The carotid artery may need to be repaired once the tumour is removed, depending on its size and location. A simple suturing of the carotid artery is often sufficient, but in other circumstances, removing the tumour leaves a hole in the carotid artery that must be patched — or the injured segment must be totally removed. A bypass graft may be performed in certain circumstances to replace the injured area.
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