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Current concepts for the surgical management of carotid body tumor.

BACKGROUND: Carotid body tumor (CBT) is a rare lesion of the neuroendocrine system. Chronic hypoxia has long been recognized as an etiology of CBT and other paragangliomas. Recent biogenetic discoveries reveal that mutations in oxygen-sensing genes are another etiology, accounting for approximately 35% of cases, and that these 2 etiologies are probably additive.

DATA SOURCES: (1) A retrospective analysis of fifteen cases of CBT in a 6-year period occurring in the mountains of Southern Appalachia; (2) an extensive review of the literature on the surgery of CBT and on the expansive biogenetic understanding of the disease.

CONCLUSIONS: Improved imaging, vascular surgical techniques, and understanding of the disease have vastly improved outcomes for patients. The necessities for long-term follow-up and appropriate genetic testing and counseling of patients and their families are documented. Surgeon and institutional competence are critical in achieving maximal outcomes.

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