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Carotid Gland
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Carotid Gland

After having an MRI for my neck, there was a finding that my carotid gland was swollen.  Could this be due to my 2 herniated disks in my neck?  What is this gland and what is its purpose?  Why would it be swollen? All I know is the gland is located between the interior and exterior carotid artery. Any answers would help.
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Thanks for using the forum. I am happy to address your questions, and my answer will be based on the information you provided here. Please make sure you recognize that this forum is for educational purposes only, and it does not substitute for a formal office visit with your doctor.

I sounds like an abnormality was detected in the area of your carotid artery when an MRI of your neck was done. I am unfamiliar with the structure "carotid gland". I am going to assume that perhaps the structure that is being referred to is the carotid body? Other glands in the neck include the thyroid gland and the salivary glands (submandibular glands), if this is what was being referred to instead of the carotid body, then the information below may not apply.

Without the ability to examine you and obtain a history, I can not comment on the cause of the carotid body enlargement on your MRI, however, I will provide you with information about the carotid body.

The common carotid artery is the artery that supplies blood to the head and neck. In the mid-neck, it divides into external and internal carotid arteries. The external carotid artery supplies blood to the face and scalp, whereas the internal carotid artery supplies blood to the brain. The carotid body is a cluster cells that is located in the area where the common carotid artery bifurcates (splits) into the internal and external arteries.

The carotid body functions to detect changes in the blood as blood flows through it. IT mainly detects the oxygen, carbon dioxide, acidity, and temperature of the blood. When there is low blood oxygen or high blood carbon dioxide, the carotid body signals an area in the brainstem called the medulla oblongata to change the respiratory and cardiac patterns.

The carotid body can be enlarged in conditions that chronically (on a long term) affect oxygenation of the body, such as living at a high altitude, heart failure and liver cirrhosis. Other causes of carotid body enlargement include tumors. Tumors that involve the carotid artery include a type called paragangliomas. Herniated discs do not usually cause carotid body enlargement.

Again, I can not comment on the cause of carotid body enlargement in you. You may benefit from evaluation by a vascular neurologist. An MRA of the neck, which is similar to the MRI that you have had but that allows better definition of the arteries in your neck, might be useful.

Thank you for this opportunity to answer your questions, I hope you find the information I have provided useful, good luck.
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