Skip to main content

Parotidectomy

Parotidectomy

Definition

Parotidectomy is the removal of the parotid gland, a salivary gland near the ear.


Purpose

The parotid gland is the largest of the salivary glands. There are two parotid glands, one on each side of the face, just below and to the front of the ear. A duct through which saliva is secreted runs from each gland to the inside of the cheek.

The main purpose of parotidectomy is to remove abnormal growths (neoplasms) that occur in the parotid gland. Parotid gland neoplasms may be benign (approximately 80%) or malignant. Tumors may spread from other areas of the body, entering the parotid gland by way of the lymphatic system.


Demographics

Benign parotid gland growths usually appear after the age of 40. Malignant growths most often affect women over the age of 60, while benign tumors affect both sexes equally. Cancer of the salivary glands accounts for only 1% of all cancers, and 7% of all head and neck cancers.


Description

During surgery, two different areas of the parotid gland are identified: the superficial lobe and the deep lobe. Superficial parotidectomy removes just the superficial lobe, while total parotidectomy removes both lobes.

The patient is first placed under general anesthesia to ensure that no pain is experienced and that all muscles remain relaxed. An incision is made directly to the front or back of the ear and down the jaw line. The skin is folded back to expose the parotid gland. The various facial nerves are identified and protected during the surgery so as to avoid permanent facial paralysis or numbness. A superficial or total parotidectomy is then performed, depending on the type and location of the tumor. If the tumor has spread to involve the facial nerve, the operation is expanded to include parts of the bone behind the ear (mastoid) to remove as much tumor as possible. Before the incision is closed, a drain is inserted into the area to collect any leaking saliva, if a superficial parotidectomy was performed. The procedure typically takes from two to five hours to complete, depending on the extent of surgery and the skill of the surgeon.

Diagnosis/Preparation

A complete physical examination and medical history is performed, as are diagnostic tests to help the surgeon better plan for the surgery. Some tests that may be performed include computed tomography (CT) scan, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and fine-needle aspiration biopsy (using a thin needle to withdraw fluid and cells from the growth).


Aftercare

After surgery, the patient will remain in the hospital for one to three days. The incision site will be watched closely for signs of infection and heavy bleeding (hemorrhage). The incision site should be kept clean and dry until it is completely healed. If the patient has difficulty smiling, winking, or drinking fluids, the physician should be contacted immediately. These are signs of facial nerve damage.


Risks

There are a number of complications that are associated with parotidectomy. Facial nerve paralysis after minor surgery should be minimal. After major surgery, a graft is attempted to restore nerve function to facial muscles. Salivary fistulas can occur when saliva collects in the incision site or drains through the incision. Recurrence of cancer is the single most important consideration for patients who have undergone parotidectomy. Long-term survival rates are largely dependent on the tumor type and the stage of tumor development at the time of the operation.

Other risks include hematoma (collection of blood under the skin) and infection. The most common long-term complication of parotidectomy is redness and sweating in the cheek, known as Frey's syndrome. Rarely, paralysis may extend throughout all the branches of the facial nervous system.

Normal results

Although some facial numbness or weakness is normal immediately following parotidectomy, these symptoms usually subside within a few months, with most patients regaining full function within one year. Return of a benign tumor is very rare.


Morbidity and mortality rates

There is a 2550% risk of temporary facial weakness following parotidectomy, and a 12% risk of permanent weakness. Frey's syndrome may be experienced by up to 90% of patients to some extent and causes perspiration on that side of the face with eating. There is very little or no risk of mortality associated with the surgery. The survival rate of malignant parotid gland tumors depends on their size, location, extension, and if metastasis has occurred. The 10-year survival rate ranges from 32% to 83%.


Alternatives

A benign parotid neoplasm may be managed expectantly (i.e., adhering to a period of watchful waiting) so that the growth is of a larger size before it is removed (the risk of facial nerve damage increases with each subsequent parotidectomy). There is generally no alternative to surgical treatment of parotid gland neoplasms, although radiation therapy may be recommended after the procedure in the case of malignant tumors.


Resources

periodicals

Califano, Joseph, and David W. Eisele. "Benign Salivary Gland Neoplasms." Otolaryngology Clinics of North America 32, no. 5 (October 1, 1999): 86173.

Carlson, Grant W. "The Salivary Glands: Embryology, Anatomy, and Surgical Applications." Surgical Clinics of North America 80, no. 1 (February 1, 2000): 26173.

Sinha, Uttam, and Matthew Ng. "Surgery of the Salivary Glands." Otolaryngology Clinics of North America 32, no. 5 (October 1, 1999): 887906.

organizations

American Academy of Otolaryngology. One Prince St., Alexandria, VA 22314-3357. (703) 836-4444. <http://www.entnet.org>.

other

Gordon, Ashley D. "Parotid Tumors, Benign." eMedicine, December 27, 2001 [cited April 7, 2003] <http://www.emedicine.com/plastic/topic371.htm>.

Johns, Michael M. "Salivary Gland Neoplasms." eMedicine, May 17, 2002 [cited April 7, 2003] <http://www.emedicine.com/ent/topic679.htm>.

Shelato, Dwight. The Patient's Forum on Tumors of the Parotid Gland, [cited April 7, 2003] <http://patientsforum.com>.


Mary K. Fyke Stephanie Dionne Sherk

WHO PERFORMS THE PROCEDURE AND WHERE IS IT PERFORMED?



Parotidectomy is performed in a hospital operating room , usually by an otolaryngologist, a medical doctor who specializes in the treatment of diseases that affect the ear, nose, throat, and other structures of the head and neck.

QUESTIONS TO ASK THE DOCTOR



  • Why is a parotidectomy being recommended?
  • How many parotidectomies do you perform each year?
  • What is your rate of complications?
  • What diagnostic tests will be performed prior to surgery?
  • Will a superficial or total parotidectomy be performed?

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Parotidectomy." Gale Encyclopedia of Surgery: A Guide for Patients and Caregivers. . Encyclopedia.com. 26 May. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Parotidectomy." Gale Encyclopedia of Surgery: A Guide for Patients and Caregivers. . Encyclopedia.com. (May 26, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/medicine/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/parotidectomy-0

"Parotidectomy." Gale Encyclopedia of Surgery: A Guide for Patients and Caregivers. . Retrieved May 26, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/medicine/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/parotidectomy-0

Parotidectomy

Parotidectomy

Definition

Parotidectomy is the removal of the parotid gland, a salivary gland near the ear.

Purpose

The main purpose of parotidectomy is to remove cancerous tumors in the parotid gland. A number of tumors can develop in the parotid gland. Many of these are tumors that have spread from other areas of the body, entering the parotid gland by way of the lymphatic system. Among the tumors seen in the parotid gland are lymphoma, melanoma, and squamous cell carcinoma.

Description

The parotid gland is the largest of the salivary glands. There are two parotid glands, one on each side of the face. They lie just in front of the ears and a duct runs from each to the inside of the cheek. Each parotid gland has several lobes. Surgery is recommend as part of the treatment for all cancers in the parotid gland. Superficial or localized parotidectomy is recommended by some authorities, unless a lipoma or Warthin's tumor is present. One of the advantages to this approach is that nerves to facial muscles are left intact. Many facial nerves run through the same area as the parotid gland and can be damaged during more complete parotidectomies. Most authorities recommend total parotidectomy, especially if cancer is found in both the superficial and deep lobes of the parotid gland. If the tumor has spread to involve the facial nerve, the operation is expanded to include parts of bone behind the ear (mastoid) to remove as much tumor as possible. Some authorities recommend post-surgery radiation as follow-up treatment for cancer.

Aftercare

After surgery, the patient will remain in the hospital for one to three days. The site of incision will be watched closely for signs of infection and heavy bleeding (hemorrhage). The incision site should be kept clean and dry until it is completely healed. The patient should not wash their hair until the stitches have been removed. If the patient has difficulty smiling, winking, or drinking fluids, the physician should be contacted immediately. These are signs of facial nerve damage.

Risks

There are a number of complications that follow parotidectomy. Facial nerve paralysis after minor surgery should be minimal. During surgery, it is possible to repair cut nerves. After major surgery, a graft is attempted to restore nerve function to facial muscles. Salivary fistulas can occur when saliva collects in the incision site or drains through the incision. Reoccurrence of cancer is the single most important consideration for patients who have undergone parotidectomy. Long term survival rates are largely dependent on the tumor types and the stage of tumor development at the time of the operation.

Other risks include blood clots (hematoma) and infection. The most common long-term complication of parotidectomy is redness and sweating in the cheek, known as Frey's syndrome. Rarely, paralysis may extend throughout all the branches of the facial nervous system.

KEY TERMS

Fistula An abnormal opening or duct through tissue that results from injury, disease, or other trauma.

Salivary gland Three pairs of glands that secrete into the mouth and aid digestion.

Resources

BOOKS

Bentz, M. L. Pediatric Plastic Surgery. Stamford: Appleton & Lange, 1998.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Parotidectomy." Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine, 3rd ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 26 May. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Parotidectomy." Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine, 3rd ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (May 26, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/medicine/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/parotidectomy

"Parotidectomy." Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine, 3rd ed.. . Retrieved May 26, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/medicine/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/parotidectomy