Carotid artery protrusion and dehiscence in patients with acromegaly

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Acromegaly is a systemic disease which causes multiple bony alterations. Some authors reported that acromegalic patients have risk factors for an intraoperative vascular injury due to the specific anatomical features of their sphenoid sinus. The objective of our study was to analyze the anatomic characteristics of sphenoid sinus in acromegalic patients compared with controls, by evaluation of computed tomography (CT) findings.


We examined 45 acromegalic (acromegaly group) and 45 non-acromegalic patients (control group) with pituitary adenomas who were matched for sex, age, height, tumor size, and cavernous sinus invasion (Knosp grade). Preoperative CT of the pituitary region including the sphenoid sinus was used to evaluate the following anatomic characteristics: type of sphenoid sinus (sellar or pre-sellar/conchal); intrasphenoid septa (non/single or multiple); carotid artery protrusion; carotid artery dehiscence; intercarotid distance.


Sixteen acromegalic patients (35.5 %) and 6 controls (13.3 %) had carotid artery protrusion. Additionally, 10 acromegalic patients (22.2 %) and 3 controls (6.6 %) had carotid artery dehiscence. Carotid artery protrusion and dehiscence were more frequent in the acromegaly group than in control group (p = 0.013 and 0.035, respectively). Other anatomic characteristics (type of sphenoid sinus, intrasphenoid septa, and intracarotid distance) showed no significant differences between acromegaly and control groups.


Our study suggests that carotid artery protrusion and dehiscence occur more frequently among acromegalic patients, compared with non-acromegalic patients. It is important for surgeons to be aware of these anatomic variations to avoid vital complications, such as carotid injuries, during surgery.

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Correspondence to Yasuo Sasagawa.

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Sasagawa, Y., Tachibana, O., Doai, M. et al. Carotid artery protrusion and dehiscence in patients with acromegaly. Pituitary 19, 482–487 (2016).

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  • Acromegaly
  • Sphenoid sinus
  • Carotid artery protrusion
  • Carotid artery dehiscence