Variability in the position of the retropharyngeal internal carotid artery

Laryngoscope. 2013 Feb;123(2):401-3. doi: 10.1002/lary.23393. Epub 2012 May 21.


The retropharyngeal internal carotid artery (ICA) is a well-described arterial anomaly with important implications for patients undergoing pharyngeal approach surgical procedures. Existing clinical and imaging classification schemes for a retropharyngeal ICA take into account arterial distance to the pharyngeal mucosal wall. We describe a case of mobility of a retropharyngeal ICA between short-interval imaging studies. The possibility of respiratory variability or other etiologies causing such changes in retropharyngeal carotid position have not been described previously. Our findings suggest that imaging findings from a single study alone may not be sufficient to confidently exclude this clinically significant arterial anomaly.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biopsy
  • Carotid Artery, Internal / anatomy & histology*
  • Carotid Artery, Internal / diagnostic imaging
  • Contrast Media
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lymphatic Diseases / diagnostic imaging*
  • Retroperitoneal Space / anatomy & histology*
  • Retroperitoneal Space / diagnostic imaging
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed


  • Contrast Media