JOURNAL ARTICLE
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Surgical treatment of paragangliomas of the neck.

Of a total of 5,700 surgical procedures on the neck performed at our Institution between 1984 and 1995, 13 operations (0.22%) have been done on 11 patients with 16 cervical paragangliomas. A woman underwent resection of synchronous bilateral carotid body tumours and of an intravagal paraganglioma. Ten years later, after preoperative angiographic embolization, she underwent resection of a paraganglioma of the left hypoglossal nerve. Her sister, at age 21, underwent resection of a carotid body tumour and, respectively 19 and 20 years later, of a right and left intravagal paraganglioma. An interposition graft for replacement of the carotid bifurcation was necessary in one patient only. During resection of a left carotid body tumour, acute hypotension occurred resulting in an ischemic lesion of the right temporal lobe. Postoperatively, she also complained of respiratory distress that responded to medical therapy with difficulty. The related neurologic symptoms completely resolved three months after surgery. The operation for a paraganglioma of the left hypoglossal nerve resulted in a temporary motor deficit of the tongue and in permanent considerable difficulty in swallowing. Unilateral recurrent nerve palsy occurred in two patients. No patients during the postoperative follow-up showed signs of local recurrence or metastatic disease. In conclusion, surgery is an effective treatment for cervical paraganglioma, but because of the high surgical complication rate, an experienced and skilled surgeon is called on to optimize outcome. An adequate perioperative care is advisable.

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