Carotid interposition in patients with head and neck tumors: clinical experience of 13 cases reconstructed with a great saphenous vein autograft

Acta Otolaryngol. 2022 May;142(5):419-424. doi: 10.1080/00016489.2022.2067356. Epub 2022 May 2.


Background: Carotid interposition graft (CIG) surgery in the setting of head & neck cancer (HNC) is a rare procedure with a limited number of cases described in the literature.

Aims/objectives: To assess the outcomes of the surgery at Helsinki University Hospital.

Materials and methods: Patients who underwent CIG in a head and neck tumor surgery were retrospectively analyzed over 15 years. Overall-survival (OS) was calculated until 1 May 2020. The primary-outcome was to measure the 30-day OS, postoperative stroke rate, and other complications. The secondary-outcome was to measure 1-, 2-, and 5-year OS.

Results: Thirteen patients were identified, 11 with HNC and two with Shamblin III Carotid Body Tumors. The great saphenous vein was used for all vascular reconstructions, and shunting was routinely performed. The 30-day stroke incidence was nil. Two graft-blowouts were encountered, one of which lead to death and the other was successfully managed. For HNC patients, the locoregional recurrence-rate was 36%. The 5-year OS was 46.2%.

Conclusion and significance: CIG in HNC setting can achieve oncologic-control with an acceptable rate of complications. Routine shunting, heparinization, and elevating blood-pressure during closure seem to be safe protocols to maintain cerebral-circulation perioperatively. A moderate graft-blowout risk should be considered.

Keywords: Carotid interposition graft; carotid artery reconstruction; head and neck cancer; surgery.

MeSH terms

  • Autografts
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms* / surgery
  • Humans
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Saphenous Vein* / transplantation
  • Treatment Outcome