Paragangliomas are rare tumors arising from paraganglionic tissue of neural crest origin. They are present in any location where autonomic ganglia are found. The most common location in the head and neck is the carotid body, followed by the jugular bulb and vagus nerve.
A 30-year-old woman with a slowly growing left neck mass, aniscoria, and left eyelid ptosis was found to have a vascular tumor consistent with a paraganglioma arising near the left carotid bifurcation. After preoperative embolization, the patient underwent resection of the tumor.
The tumor was found to be arising from the left sympathetic trunk and did not involve any other surrounding structures. Histopathologic analysis revealed the typical findings of a paraganglioma.
Sympathetic paragangliomas are exceedingly rare tumors in the head and neck and should be considered in the differential diagnosis when clinical and radiographic evidence suggest a paraganglioma. The presentation is typically a slow-growing neck mass with the presence of an ipsilateral Horner's syndrome. © 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Head Neck 23: 338–342, 2001.