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Management of cervical paragangliomas: review of a 15-year experience.

BACKGROUND AND AIMS: Cervical paragangliomas are highly vascular neoplasms and should be considered in the evaluation of all lateral neck masses. The aim of this study is to review an institutional experience in the management of these tumors.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Thirteen patients with 14 paragangliomas were treated in our institution during a period of 15 years. There were eight women (61.5%) and five men (38.5%) with a mean age of 41.3+/-15 years. A painless lateral neck mass was the main finding in 69.2% of patients. There was no evidence of a functional tumor. Carotid angiography was performed in all patients to define the vascular anatomy of the lesion. The 78.6% of paragangliomas underwent selective embolization of the major feeding arteries. Surgical resection followed within the next 48 h.

RESULTS: The majority of the lesions were paragangliomas of the carotid bifurcation (85.7%), while one patient was diagnosed with a jugular and one with a vagal paraganglioma. In one patient, bilateral paragangliomas in the carotid bifurcation were detected. There was no evidence of malignancy in any case. Preoperative embolization has proven successful in reducing tumor vascularity. Vascular reconstruction was necessary in one patient. The main postoperative complication was transient cranial nerve deficit in seven (53.8%) patients, and a permanent Horner's syndrome was documented in one patient. No stroke occurred. The jugular paraganglioma was treated with irradiation due to skull base extension with significant symptomatic relief.

CONCLUSION: Combined therapeutic approach with preoperative selective embolization followed by surgical resection by an experienced team offers a safe and effective method for complete excision of the tumors with a reduced morbidity rate.

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