Carotid Body Tumors

Carotid Body Tumors
What is a carotid body tumour?

Both sides of the neck contain the carotid artery. Smaller arteries that transport blood to the brain branch off of the main carotid artery. In the region where the carotid artery divides, growth can occasionally be visible. This development is referred to as a carotid body tumor, also known as paraganglioma or chemodectoma.

Symptoms and Causes

Mostly carotid body tumor is present as asymptomatic swelling in the neck region. It is identified by the doctor during an examination. It is a palpable mass that is usually painless. A carotid body tumor is a slow-growing tumor and as it increases in size, it can press on the adjacent blood vessels, nerves, or organs around it. This can lead to various symptoms like hoarseness, numbness in the tongue, or difficulty in swallowing.

Diagnosis and Tests

The doctor will examine the neck and head region to look for signs of a carotid body tumor. He may advise you of the following tests to confirm the diagnosis:

  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) – A powerful magnet and radio waves are used in this test to provide precise images of the interior of your body.
  • Ultrasound – this test uses a unique tool known as a transducer/wand that sends sound waves inside your body to create pictures.
  • Magnetic Resonance Angiography (MRA) – is an MRI that checks for problems with your blood vessels.
  • Computed Tomography (CT scan): is a particular type of X-ray.
Management and Treatment

Typically, a carotid body tumour does not develop into malignancy. But they should be taken out as soon as they are found. The most effective course of treatment for this tumour is surgery. Radiation treatment is also applied seldom.

What surgical procedures can be used to treat carotid body tumours?

Often, a multidisciplinary treatment strategy is necessary. According to your situation, your healthcare expert will create the appropriate treatment plan. The tumour is removed surgically, and the injured carotid artery is also repaired. A vascular surgeon will do transcatheter embolization and bypass graft procedures if they are necessary.

Transcatheter Embolization

Transcatheter embolization is a procedure that helps in reducing the blood supply to the tumor. It is performed 2-3 days before surgery. In this procedure, A catheter will be guided through your groin artery into the blood vessels that feed blood to the tumor. To stop the blood flow into the tumor, we use medication and/or a blocking device, such as foam, plastic, metal coil, or glue.

Surgical Removal (Resection)

Around 60% -70% of the time, the tumor can be removed without repairing or withdrawing part of the carotid artery. If there is any need to fix the artery, it can be done by a simple suture repair. A more complicated repair is needed, like a bypass graft. This method creates a new pathway for blood flow by using other blood vessels.

Risks of Treatment

The majority of the time, carotid body tumor treatment is quite safe and effective. However, there are dangers associated with any surgical procedures. Stroke is one of the probable side effects. Less than 2% of people who have had this procedure get a stroke. It is, therefore, an uncommon complication. Patients with big tumors and those who require vascular replacement or repair are considered to be high-risk.

In case the nerves near the carotid artery, such as the vagus nerve, facial nerve, or hypoglossal nerve that controls your tongue, vocal cords get affected, and part of the nerve may need to be removed. This usually happens if the tumor is large. The overall risk for permanent nerve damage is less than 5%.

Surgeons at KIMS Hospitals take special precautions to decrease your risk of complications. 

Choosing a Doctor

The doctor and hospital that you choose for your medical care will have a direct impact on how well you do. At KIMS Hospitals we have a team of the best doctors where we provide the best treatment for carotid body tumours.

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