OBJECTIVE: The goal was to review our experience in the management of carotid body tumors at a tertiary referral center. METHODS: A retrospective review was performed of patients at University of California-Los Angeles Medical Center in whom carotid body tumor was diagnosed between 1973 and 1998. RESULTS: Twenty-nine patients with 36 carotid body tumors were identified. Thirty-five operations were performed. Seventeen patients underwent preoperative embolization. The blood loss for these patients was less than for those without embolization. Five patients had preoperative cranial nerve deficits. Neurologic deficits were noted in 41% of patients immediately after surgery. In 24% of patients, the deficits were permanent. CONCLUSION: Surgical resection is the treatment of choice for carotid body tumors. Embolization immediately before surgery decreases blood loss and facilitates tumor removal. In our series, the risk of new postsurgical cranial nerve deficits was small. Observation of these tumors is not recommended because progressive growth is associated with increased risk of neurologic deficits.
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