Carotid Body Tumor – radiological imaging and genetic assessment
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Carotid Body Tumor i.e. Paraganglioma is a challenging entity from the point of view of multidisciplinary diagnosis. The main treatment option, i.e. surgery, yields intraoperative risk related to cranial nerve palsy and vascular morbidity. Bifurcation of the common carotid artery, especially at the carotid body, is the place were head and neck paraganglioma is most frequently seen, i.e. in 60% of cases . Indeed, the knowledge of genetic germline SDH mutations, which cause deregulation of hypoxiainduced factors, allows for better understanding of the tumor nature. It is recommended to conduct selective neck dissection in regions IIA, IIB, III to exclude malignant transformation and metastasis, due to malignant potential of carotid body tumors, especially in case of SDHB mutation. SDHD mutation is the main cause of hereditary HNPGLs. Computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and angiography allow for thorough assessment of paraganglioma extension. In large tumors embolization of the supplying artery under guidance of angiography may be considered. In case of carotid body tumor, differential diagnosis should include: carotid artery aneurysm, lymphadenopathy, Schwannoma of the hypoglossal nerve or accessory thyroid gland.
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