We report 2 cases of carotid artery rupture after irradiation that was performed 1 year and 17 years before the ruptures. When irradiation-induced arterial rupture occurs, it usually does so within a few months following irradiation. However, the histopathological sections obtained in the present cases revealed carotid artery necrosis that was presumably induced by irradiation. Carotid artery rupture is sudden, massive hemorrhage that ranks among the most dreaded complications in the head and neck. However, several patients have been saved by hospital personnel who discovered the rupture in time to take appropriate measures such as cleaning of the wound and protection with myocutaneous or myofascial flaps. Therefore, it is important to be aware of the possibility of rupture or perforation of major vessels after irradiation, even when the radiation therapy was performed a long time ago.
Copyright 2002 S. Karger AG, Basel