Background: The present study reviewed a 30-year experience of managing carotid body paraganglioma (CBP) and analysed clinical findings associated with perioperative morbidity.
Methods: Clinical records, radiological findings and pathological reports of all patients who presented with CBP between 1966 and 1997 were reviewed. There were 39 consecutive patients with 45 tumours and median follow-up was 10 years. The Shamblin classification was used to define complication rates and long-term surgical results.
Results: Preoperative information derived from magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) and colour Doppler imaging (CDI) was comparable to that from standard four-vessel arteriography. Forty-one CBPs were resected in 35 patients. Six patients had bilateral tumours and seven had multicentric tumours. The median duration of operation and blood loss were substantially higher for Shamblin type III tumours. All major vascular complications (four of 39 patients) and permanent neurological complications (three of 39) were observed in type III tumours.
Conclusion: Surgical planning and prediction of perioperative complications can be obtained by staging derived from MRA and CDI. Severe complications occur predominantly in type III CBPs.