The carotid body is a group of cells located at the bifurcation of the internal and external carotid arteries. This very small organ helps regulate blood pressure and other vital functions. Most of the time these patients have an asymptomatic, pulsatile mass of the mid, lateral neck. Sometimes these tumors are seen unexpectedly during imaging for other issues. Infrequently, these tumors run in families and can be malignant. However, most of the time these are benign, sporadic tumors.
Once the tumor is diagnosed, imaging will determine the size and location of the tumor. If the tumor is large, your vascular surgeon can embolize the tumor to shrink it prior to surgery. The tumor can then be removed surgically. This requires a neck incision and possible excision of part of the carotid arteries. Your surgeon will discuss your particular procedural risks depending on your surgical presentation.
Most patients are able to go home the day following surgery as long as they have no complications. Typically, patients are back to their normal routines within a week. They are able to drive once they are no longer taking pain medications and can move their neck easily.
Patients requiring vascular surgery should look for the best physician trained in vascular surgery. Dr. Jenna Kazil is considered an expert in vascular surgery. Dr. Kazil is also a double board-certified general and vascular surgeon. She works at Florida Surgical Clinic in Bradenton, FL.