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Impact of preoperative embolization on outcomes of carotid body tumor resections.

OBJECTIVE: This study assessed neurovascular complications in the surgical management of carotid body tumors (CBTs), with emphasis on those treated with and without preoperative embolization.

METHODS: We reviewed the clinical data of all consecutive patients with CBTs treated by surgical resection at our institution from 1985 to 2010. Outcomes were compared between Shamblin class II and III CBTs treated with preoperative embolization (EMB group) and with no preoperative embolization (NEMB group).

RESULTS: A total of 131 patients (80 women, 51 men), who were aged 48 years (range, 16-84 years), had resection of 144 CBTs and 12 concurrent cervical paragangliomas. This included 18 patients who had bilateral resections and 29 with familial CBTs. Succinate dehydrogenase (SDHx) mutations were confirmed in 17 patients. Mean tumor volume was 20.5 cm(3) (range, 0.8-101.3 cm(3)), and there were two biochemically active CBTs (1%). There were 71 Shamblin II and 33 Shamblin III. The EMB group underwent 33 CBT resections, and the NEMB group underwent 71. There were more patients in the EMB group with bilateral (48% vs 22%; P = .01) and familial (34% vs 14%; P = .01) CBT; otherwise, patient demographics, Shamblin class, and tumor diameter and volumes were similar. No strokes or other major complications occurred after preoperative embolization with polyvinyl alcohol particles 1 day before surgery. The EMB group required less extensive procedures (simple excision in 97% vs 82%, P = .03; internal carotid artery clamping in 15% vs 37%, P = .04) and had less blood loss (mean estimated blood loss, 263 vs 599 mL; P = .002) than the NEMB group. However, there were no significant differences in operative time (250 vs 265 minutes; P = .49), temporary cranial nerve injury (52% vs 38%; P = .21), clinically apparent cranial nerve deficits after 1 year (12% vs 7%; P = .46), deaths (0% vs 0%; P > .99), stroke (0% vs 1%; P > .99), or postoperative length of stay (4.1 vs 4.2 days; P = .91).

CONCLUSIONS: Large CBTs can be resected safely with or without preoperative embolization. Preoperative embolization may simplify the conduct of the operation and reduce blood loss but does not decrease rates of cranial nerve injury, although most are temporary.

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