Carotid body tumors usually present as a painless mass in the neck. A case in which severe pain was the primary surgical indication is so unusual that it bears reporting.
This 34-year-old Negro female laundry worker was admitted to the Strong Memorial Hospital in August, 1959, complaining of an exquisitely painful mass in the right neck. She had first noted an asymptomatic "pea-sized" mass in the area 10 years prior to admission. In 1954 the mass enlarged to the size of a plum, at which time she experienced a sudden episode of syncope which was preceded by sharp pain in the right side of the head radiating to the right cervical area, to the mass, and to the right ear. The patient was then asymptomatic until 18 mo. ago when the mass became progressively larger, although fluctuating in size during this period, and became increasingly painful. Sharp,