Carotid Body Tumor | Symptoms & Treatment | MedStar Health

A carotid body tumor, also known as a chemodectoma or paraganglioma, is a tumor located in the upper part of the neck where the two carotid arteries, which carry blood from the heart to the brain, branch into smaller blood vessels. The cells that surround that area are called the carotid body.


Carotid body tumors are rare and generally not life-threatening, but they can grow and press on nearby nerves and blood vessels. The vascular surgeons in our Vascular and Endovascular Program are leaders in the removal of carotid body tumors. 

What are the symptoms of a carotid body tumor?

This type of tumor may not cause any symptoms at first, but it may be felt as a painless mass on the side of your neck.

As a carotid body tumor grows, it may begin to cause symptoms such as:

Tests

Diagnosing a carotid body tumor is the first step to developing a treatment plan. Our specialists may recommend one or more diagnostic and imaging procedures.

Angiogram (Angiography)
An angiogram is a special X-ray taken as a special dye is injected through a thin, flexible tube called a catheter to detect blockages or aneurysms in blood vessels.

Carotid duplex ultrasound
Carotid duplex ultrasound uses Doppler and traditional ultrasound to assess blood flow in the arteries that supply blood to your brain.

Treatments

Depending on the size of the tumor and your age and health, your doctor may recommend surgery to remove the tumor. They also may recommend a procedure to cut off the tumor’s blood supply in order to make the surgery easier and to decrease the amount of blood lost during surgery.

Carotid artery disease treatments
Carotid artery disease may be slowed or treated through lifestyle changes, medication, endarterectomy, or angioplasty and stenting.

Read our Cardiovascular Performance & Outcomes Booklet

Ask MHVI

Have questions for our heart and vascular program? Email us at AskMHVI@medstar.net.