Carotid body tumor resection remains a surgical challenge traditionally associated with a 15-30% incidence of cranial nerve injury. The authors reviewed their experience with carotid body tumor surgery to determine whether contemporary awareness of carotid body tumors is leading to earlier detection and operation, resulting in a lower incidence of postoperative cranial nerve injury. Twenty-seven carotid body tumors were resected in 25 patients between 1990 and 2000. No patient died and no patient had postoperative baroreflex failure syndrome. There was 1 stroke (4%) in a patient who required ligation of the internal carotid artery, There were 9 cranial nerve injuries (33%), most commonly to the vagus or hypoglossal nerves, which was not significantly different from the rate of cranial nerve injury (44%) in the 9 patients operated upon between 1984 and 1989 (p = 0.37, Fisher's exact test). Multivariate analysis demonstrated that tumor size was the only significant factor predicting cranial nerve injury (p = 0.045, logistic regression). Since carotid body tumors with large size or higher Shamblin grades had predictably high operative blood loss and rates of postoperative cranial nerve injury, a high index of suspicion and aggressive surgical management may lead to earlier detection and operation on smaller tumors, ultimately reducing the risk of nerve injury. Nevertheless, carotid body tumor surgery appears to be relatively free of mortality and major morbidity in contemporary practice.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine