Salivary Gland Surgery

This is a surgical procedure to remove one or more of the salivary glands. It is usually done due to a tumor, chronic infection or blockage.

This is a surgical procedure to remove one or more of the salivary glands. It is usually done due to a tumor, chronic infection or blockage.

Salivary glands are located on each side of the face. Their function is to make saliva, which contains enzymes that help in digestion. Saliva also helps maintain overall oral health.

  • The enzymes start breaking down the food we eat.
  • The moisture makes chewing and swallowing easier. It also helps clean the mouth by washing away germs left over from the food.

There are three pairs of major salivary glands. They include:

  • Two parotid glands, found in the cheeks on both sides of the face
  • Two submandibular glands, found on both sides beneath the lower jaw
  • Two sublingual glands, found in the bottom of the mouth

All of the salivary glands have ducts that empty saliva into the mouth.

An infection or tumor in one of the salivary glands can cause:

  • Increasing swelling in front of the ears, under the chin, or in the floor of the mouth
  • Difficulty moving one side of the face (facial nerve palsy)

Your healthcare provider may recommend removal of a salivary gland due to a tumor, chronic infection or blockage in the gland. Tumors in the salivary glands are abnormal cells that grow in the ducts that drain the glands. These tumors are rare, especially in young people.

  • Parotid gland tumors are the most common salivary gland tumors. They grow slowly and not usually cancerous.
  • Fortunately, the prognosis of salivary gland tumors is usually good.
  • However, occasionally tumors can recur after removal and spread to other organs.

Blockage and swelling of the salivary glands may be caused by or related to:

  • Stones in one of the salivary ducts
  • Infection in one of the salivary glands
  • Abdominal surgery
  • Liver cirrhosis
  • Other infections or cancers

Contact your healthcare provider if you have symptoms of a blocked or infected salivary gland. He or she will take a medical history and perform a physical exam. He or she may recommend the following tests:

  • Salivary gland X-rays
  • CT or MRI to determine if there is a cancerous mass or see if a cancer has spread
  • Biopsy of the salivary gland

If a tumor of one of the salivary glands is confirmed, the recommendation is usually removal of the affected gland. Prior to the surgery, tell your healthcare provider about any medications you are taking (including over-the-counter medications and supplements). Ask about specific instructions you should follow before the procedure. These may include:

  • Medications you should not take before the surgery, such as blood thinners or aspirin
  • Regular medications you should continue to take on the day of your surgery
  • How many hours you should stop eating and drinking before surgery

If you are a smoker, you should quit smoking, as it can interfere with your recovery.

You will receive anesthesia to keep you comfortable and pain free during the surgery.

  • General anesthesia is the type of anesthesia most commonly used for surgery on the salivary glands.
  • This is the use of medications to put you into a deep sleep where you are unable to see, hear, or feel anything.

You will probably go home the day of your surgery.

  • You may need pain medication and help at home while you recover.
  • Do not forget to arrange for transportation to and from the facility and for help at home.

This care path gives the cost for removal of one or both of the parotid glands.

What should I ask my healthcare provider before having this surgery?

  • What is my diagnosis and reason for the surgery? What alternatives are available?
  • What are the chances my symptoms will come back after the surgery?
  • What is your experience with this procedure? What is your complication rate?
  • Is there any other special preparation for the surgery? (If so, get clear instructions on what you need to do.)
  • What kind of sedation will I have? What are the possible side effects?
  • What are the possible complications and how will I feel after the procedure? Will I have to modify my activity?
  • What will happen to me if I do not have this or any other procedure?

After your procedure, it is important to know what you had done, what medication was given, and what symptoms you should report to your healthcare provider. Make sure that you understand all home care instructions (including medications and side effects) and follow-up plans.


Also known as:

Salivary Gland Surgery
Salivary Duct
Remove Salivary Gland
Removal of Salivary Gland
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