Paragangliomas of the head and neck

Med Princ Pract. 2007;16(3):209-14. doi: 10.1159/000100392.


Objectives: The purpose of this study was to determine the clinical characteristics of carotid body tumors and to analyze the benefits of different treatment modalities.

Subjects and methods: The clinical records of 13 patients with paragangliomas treated during the period of 1995-2005 were reviewed for age at diagnosis, sex, initial symptoms, duration of symptoms, evidence of secretory function, family history, radiographic studies, pre- and posttreatment cranial nerve deficits, multicentric tumors, angiography, operative procedures and findings, and complications. The diagnoses were established by computerized tomography and magnetic resonance imaging scanning. Angiography was performed on 3 patients with carotid body tumor.

Results: All of the patients were followed up for a duration ranging from 16 months to 9 years. The median follow-up was 5 years. Of all 18 head and neck tumors confirmed in 13 patients, 16 were in the carotid body, 1 in the vagus nerve and 1 in the middle ear cleft. Four patients had multiple paragangliomas, 2 bilateral synchronous and 1 bilateral asynchronous paragangliomas. The remaining patient had 3 asynchronous paragangliomas, i.e. left jugulotympanic, right carotid body and left vagal paraganglioma. All patients underwent successful surgical resection of the tumor after appropriate preoperative investigation.

Conclusion: This study shows that surgical treatment is acceptably safe and effective in treating these neoplasms.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Angiography, Digital Subtraction
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Paraganglioma / diagnosis*
  • Paraganglioma / surgery*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Treatment Outcome