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Open Access Case report

Unilateral congenital elongation of the cervical part of the internal carotid artery with kinking and looping: two case reports and review of the literature

Nikolai A Ovchinnikov1, Ramesh T Rao2 and Suresh R Rao1*

Author Affiliations

1 Anatomy & Cell Biology Unit, Department of Preclinical Sciences, Faculty of Medical Sciences, University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago, West Indies

2 Department of Paraclinical Sciences, School of Pharmacy, Faculty of Medical Sciences, University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago, West Indies

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Head & Face Medicine 2007, 3:29  doi:10.1186/1746-160X-3-29

Published: 25 July 2007

Abstract

Unilateral and bilateral variation in the course and elongation of the cervical (extracranial) part of the internal carotid artery (ICA) leading to its tortuosity, kinking and coiling or looping is not a rare condition, which could be caused by both embryological and acquired factors. Patients with such variations may be asymptomatic in some cases; in others, they can develop cerebrovascular symptoms due to carotid stenosis affecting cerebral circulation. The risk of transient ischemic attacks in patients with carotid stenosis is high and its surgical correction is indicated for the prevention of ischemic stroke. Detection of developmental variations of the ICA and evaluation of its stenotic areas is very important for surgical interventions and involves specific diagnostic imaging techniques for vascular lesions including contrast arteriography, duplex ultrasonography and magnetic resonance angiography. Examination of obtained images in cases of unusual and complicated variations of vascular pattern of the ICA may lead to confusion in interpretation of data. Awareness about details and topographic anatomy of variations of the ICA may serve as a useful guide for both radiologists and vascular surgeons. It may help to prevent diagnostic errors, influence surgical tactics and interventional procedures and avoid complications during the head and neck surgery. Our present study was conducted with a purpose of updating data about developmental variations of the ICA. Dissections of the main neurovascular bundle of the head and neck were performed on a total 14 human adult cadavers (10 – Africans: 7 males & 3 females and 4 – East Indians: all males). Two cases of unilateral congenital elongation of the cervical part of the ICA with kinking and looping and carotid stenoses were found only in African males. Here we present their detailed case reports with review of the literature.