2012 Volume 1 Issue 3 Pages 129-133
Carotid body tumour is a rare disease, a slow growing highly vascular tumour of the carotid body tissue and the most common type of the paraganglioma. This article reviews the pathological, clinical and ultrasound features of carotid body tumours and discusses the role of duplex ultrasound in the diagnosis and assessment of this condition. The initial presentation of carotid body tumour is usually a painless palpable neck mass. Some patients may experience local pressure symptoms as well as symptoms from vagal, hypoglossal and cervical sympathetic nerve impingement. Percutaneous needle aspiration or incisional biopsy is contraindicated for the diagnosis of carotid body tumours. Duplex ultrasound, computed tomography scan, magnetic resonance scan and angiography are commonly used diagnostic tools for this condition. Complete surgical excision of carotid body tumour is the treatment of choice as radiation therapy and chemotherapy are unsatisfactory. Based on vascularity and location, duplex ultrasound scan is able to diagnose carotid body tumour and differentiate it from many other masses in the neck. This non-invasive, inexpensive and readily available diagnostic tool can be used as a first-line imaging modality for the diagnosis and assessment of carotid body tumours.