We describe the case of a 41-year-old woman who presented to a local facial plastic surgeon for evaluation of a cosmetic defect of the cheek of 1 month's duration. When imaging revealed the presence of a vascular mass, the patient was referred to us. Further imaging identified the mass as an intraparotid external carotid artery aneurysm. The decision was then made to treat the patient with embolization of the lesion followed by surgical resection the next day. During the resection, the lateral-most aspect of the aneurysm was found to be adherent to and splaying the facial nerve. The embolized mass and the surrounding fascial layer were removed, and the branches of the facial nerve were retracted superiorly and inferiorly. Dissection proceeded around the aneurysm in this plane. Blood loss during the procedure was minimal. On postoperative day 1, the patient exhibited minimal lower facial asymmetry. In this case, performing embolization prior to surgical resection appeared to be a prudent and efficacious strategy. The preoperative embolization greatly reduced the risk of damage to the facial nerve.
Aneurysms of the external carotid artery are rare. The few cases that have been reported were managed with either embolization alone, surgery alone, or observation. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first published case that involved a combined approach of embolization and surgery for the management of an external carotid artery aneurysm.