We review 2 cases of surgically and pathologically confirmed paraganglioma of the cervical sympathetic chain. Both patients-a 46-year-old man and a 33-year-old woman-were treated surgically. Intraoperatively, both tumors were found to be hypervascular and arising from the cervical sympathetic chain. Histopathologic analysis confirmed both as paragangliomas. Paragangliomas arising from the cervical sympathetic chain are exceptionally rare, but they must be considered in the differential diagnosis of parapharyngeal masses. They often present with ipsilateral Horner syndrome and oropharyngeal fullness, and they may be associated with a higher rate of catecholamine secretion. Typical imaging characteristics include anterolateral or lateral displacement of both the carotid and jugular vessels.
Paragangliomas are rare, slowly growing, neuroendocrine tumors that develop at autonomic ganglia located in either blood vessel chemoreceptors or nerves. They are also referred to as glomus tumors, nonchromaffin paragangliomas, and chemodectomas, but paragangliomas is the preferred term.