Jump To

    Carotid body tumour


    Carotid body tumours are rare neoplasms. They are paragangliomas occurring in the soft tissue adjacent to the bifurcation of the carotid artery.1,2

    Record the patient identifying information and any clinical information supplied together with the specimen description as designated on the container. See overview page for more detail on identification principles.

    • No
      • Non-routine fixation (not formalin), describe.
    • Yes
      • Special studies required, describe.
      • Ensure samples are taken prior to fixation.
    • Not performed
    • Performed, describe type and result
      • Frozen section
      • Imprints/cytology
      • Other, specify

    See general information for more detail on specimen handling procedures.

    Inspect the specimen and dictate a macroscopic description.

    External Inspection

    Orientate and identify the anatomical features of the specimen.

    Record additional orientation or designation provided by operating clinician:

    • Absent
    • Present
      • Method of designation (e.g. suture, incision)
      • Featured denoted

    If unable to orientate or if ambiguities exist, contact the on-call pathologist or surgeon.

    Photograph the intact specimen if required.

    Describe the following features of the specimen:


    Describe as stated by the clinician.

    • Cartoid body tumour
    • Other, describe

    Specimen laterality

    • Left
    • Right
    • Unknown

    Specimen integrity

    • Intact
    • Disrupted, describe
      • Number of pieces

    Anatomical components included (more than one may apply) and specimen dimensions (mm)

    Describe and measure the components present.

    • Specimen size in three dimensions2
    • Recognisable anatomical components (e.g. artery etc)


    Paint the outer surface with ink.1 Serially section the specimen transversely at 3-4mm intervals.2

    Internal Inspection

    Describe the internal or cut surface appearance including the following items:


    • Absent
    • Present
      • Number; if more than one tumour, designate and describe each tumour separately

    Tumour size (mm)

    • In three dimensions (if not the entire specimen)2

    Tumour appearance

    • Colour
    • Nodular1
    • Haemorrhagic2
    • Necrotic2
    • Encapsulated2
    • Infiltrative2

    Distance from margins (mm)

    • Distance of tumour to the nearest surgical margin or to marked vessels and nerves2

    Photograph the dissected specimen if required.

    Note photographs taken, diagrams recorded and markings used for identification


    Submit one section per 10mm maximum dimension of tissue.1,2 Focus on sampling haemorrhagic and necrotic-appearing areas as well as areas of possible invasion.2

    If surrounding soft tissue is present, check carefully for lymph nodes and submit all for processing.1

    Record details of each cassette.

    An illustrated block key similar to the one provided may be useful.

    Block allocation key

    Cassette id
    No. of pieces
    Carotid body tumour


    Prof Alfed Lam for his contribution in reviewing and editing this protocol.


    1. Lester SC. Manual of Surgical Pathology. Philadelphia: Saunders Elsevier; 2010.
    2. Speight P, Jones A, Napier S, Helliwell T. Tissue pathways for head and neck pathology. The Royal College of Pathologists, London, 2014.

    Page last updated:

    Copyright © 2022 RCPA. All rights reserved.