Parotid and Submandibular Gland Tumors

The parotid and submandibular glands are susceptible to benign or malignant tumors that often appear as a lump in front of or below the ear. Parotid and submandibular gland tumors including lymphomas, melanoma, or squamous cell carcinoma, can spread from other areas of the body to enter the gland through the lymphatic system. Fortunately, in most cases, the tumors are easily removed with surgery.

Parotid and Submandibular Gland Tumors and Disease Treatments

Excision of Submandibular Gland

The submandibular salivary gland sits in the neck, just below the jaw, and produces saliva that feeds into the floor of the mouth. Removing the submandibular gland may be required along with a tumor removal in the area, or for less serious conditions such as chronic infections due to salivary stones.

The removal of a single salivary gland has little effect on saliva production since there are many other sources of saliva around the mouth. The excision of the gland requires protection for several structures in the area, including nerves, blood vessels, and muscles. Typically, a tube is placed to aid post-surgery drainage.

Excision of Parotid Gland

The facial nerve plays a key role in the planning and performance of a parotidectomy, the partial or complete removal of a parotid gland, located on each side of the face. The facial nerve and its branches run through the parotid gland, vertically bisecting the gland.

The most common procedure is a superficial parotidectomy, which removes gland tissue on the outside of the nerves. When the entire parotid gland must be removed, surgery is much more complex as the facial nerve and all its branches must be identified and the gland tissue removed from around them. This is called a total parotidectomy. A radical parotidectomy includes resectioning of the facial nerve as well as completing a total parotidectomy.