Carotid body tumors (CBTs) account for only 0.5% of all body tumors but represent 60% to 70% of head and neck paragangliomas. Surgical excision of CBT is currently considered the most efficient modality of treatment. The aim of the present study is to present a literature review of the current treatments for CBTs. a computerized search was conducted through PubMed without limits from 2000 to 2014, using the following terms "carotid body tumors AND resection", "paragangliomas AND resection". PubMed search identified 152 publications, a scrupulous analysis of which resulted in 34 eligible articles. The main findings are that Complete surgical excision of CBT is currently considered the mainstay of therapy and a particular vascular experience of surgeons, especially in the case of direct involvement of the arterial vessels, is required. Advances in endovascular surgery suggest the possibility of vascular exclusion of external carotid artery feeding branches to the tumour through deployment of covered stents. Despite the type of technique, treatment should be performed soon after diagnosis because of the potential of the tumor to be malignant and the technical difficulty to achieve radical excision of large lesions.
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