Chemodectomas

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Abstract

Small collections of neuroepithelial cells are distributed widely throughout the body. When they are identifible grossly, they are called paraganglia. Those which do not secrete catecholamines, and thus are non-chromaffin, are related to the parasympathetic nervous system. Tumors which develop from these paraganglia are most frequently found in the temporal bone or the cervical region. The term “chemodectoma” has been applied to these tumors because of their lcoation in the vicinity of the carotid body, which is known chemoreceptor sensitive to pH, and concentrations of oxygen and carbon dioxide. Since only the tumors which arise in the vicinity of the aortic body or carotid body can be considered chemodectomas, the more general term, non-chromaffin paraganglioma, is preferred. However, much of the literature concerning these tumors uses “chemodectoma” in a broad sense, and the following discussion will use this term as synonymous with non-chromaffin paraganglioma.