Background and purpose: Paragangliomas are tumors of neural crest origin commonly arising from the carotid body, vagal nerve, or jugular bulb. The definitive treatment for these tumors is surgical resection, often augmented with pre-operative embolization due their highly vascular nature. We present our experience examining the efficacy and safety of endovascular embolization of these rare tumors.
Methods: A review of patient's diagnosed with paragangliomas who underwent pre-operative embolization over a 5-year period (2002-2007) was conducted. The tumor subtype, efficacy of embolization, method of embolization, and rate of complication were noted.
Results: A total of 38 patients underwent selective arterial embolization of their paraganglioma using polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) particles ranging in size from 100-1000 microns. The tumor subtypes treated were carotid body (n = 20), glomus vagale (n = 10), and glomus jugulare (n = 8). The average age at presentation was 44 years (range, 15-81). Twenty-two patients were female and sixteen were male. The most common artery embolized was the ascending pharyngeal branch of the external carotid artery. Post-embolization angiography revealed an average decrease in blood flow to tumor of 75%. With the exception of transient facial pain documented in 1 patient, there were no known complications from embolization.
Conclusions: The endovascular embolization of paragangliomas using PVA prior to surgical resection is a very safe and efficacious procedure that may reduce operative blood loss and associated morbidity.
Keywords: embolization; paraganglioma; polyvinyl alcohol.