Medially displaced common and internal carotid arteries presenting as a pulsatile mass: Clinicoradiologic analysis of 62 cases | Ear, Nose & Throat Journal Skip to content Skip to navigation

Medially displaced common and internal carotid arteries presenting as a pulsatile mass: Clinicoradiologic analysis of 62 cases

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April 30, 2017
by Ilker Burak Arslan, MD; Yildiz Arslan, MD; Erhan Demirhan, MD; Selahattin Genc, MD; Yeliz Pekcevik, MD; Levent Altin, MD; Zahide Yilmaz, MD; Ibrahim Cukurova, MD

Abstract

We conducted a prospective study to analyze the medially displaced courses of the common carotid artery (CCA) and the cervical segment of the internal carotid artery (ICA) in patients who were diagnosed with a pulsatile mass on nasopharyngolaryngoscopy and by clinicoradiologic findings. Our study group was made up of 62 patients-40 women and 22 men, aged 30 to 88 years (mean: 63.7)-who presented with a submucosal pseudomass or a bulging mass on the pharyngeal wall with obvious pulsation. For comparison purposes, we recruited a control group of 62 consecutively presenting patients who had been admitted to our Neurology Department with acute severe headache and who had undergone CT angiography based on a suspicion of an aneurysm or a vertebral or carotid artery dissection. A medially displaced carotid artery was identified in all patients in the study group. Two main course abnormalities were observed: (1) a pharyngeal superficial placement (PSP), consisting of a bulging or placement immediately adjacent to the naso-orohypopharyngeal lumen, and (2) a retropharyngeal midline placement (RMP), which entailed medialization of the carotid arteries to the midline. A PSP was observed in 11 patients, an RMP was found in 17 patients, and both were seen in 34 patients. The distance from the aberrant carotid artery to the pharyngeal wall and to the retropharyngeal midline of the retropharynx was measured at four levels: nasopharyngeal, retropalatal, retroglossal, and retroepiglottic in both groups. The mean distance was significantly shorter in the study group than in the control group at all four levels (p < 0.002). We conclude that the most likely diagnosis of a pulsatile mass detected on nasopharyngolaryngoscopy is an aberrant CCA or cervical ICA.

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