What are salivary glands?

Salivary glands include the major salivary glands: parotid (in front of the ear), submandibular (under the jaw), and sublingual (under the tongue). In addition to these, there are hundreds of small salivary glands located widely inside the mouth.

What are the common diseases of salivary glands?

The main diseases affecting salivary glands are infections, stones, and masses. Salivary gland surgeries are most commonly performed on the parotid and submandibular salivary glands due to stones and masses. A significant example of a salivary gland infection is mumps, a viral disease. Other infections, especially bacterial ones, develop in specific cases and are treated with medication.

What type of anesthesia is used for salivary gland surgeries?

Salivary gland surgeries are generally performed under general anesthesia in an operating room, mainly for both benign and malignant masses. Stones in the ducts of the parotid and submandibular glands that are close to the mouth can be removed with local anesthesia if they are accessible from within the mouth. If the stones are deep-seated, general anesthesia is preferred.

What are the characteristics of parotid gland surgery?

The most important aspect of parotid gland surgery is the identification and preservation of the five branches of the facial nerve that pass through the salivary gland. This anatomical feature is what makes parotid gland surgery intricate. In parotid gland surgery, a special incision is made that starts in front of the ear, turns backward, and extends toward the neck. The surgery can be completed by removing the salivary gland tissues on the surface of the facial nerve, and this technique is called “superficial parotidectomy.” The part of the facial nerve deeper within the gland can also be removed along with the superficial gland tissue, and this technique is called “total parotidectomy.”

What can be expected after parotid gland surgery?

Partial and temporary paralysis of the facial nerve may occur after parotid gland surgery. Very rarely, permanent facial nerve paralysis can occur, but the surgeon’s experience, along with technological advancements, largely mitigates this complication. During surgery, goggles or microscopes magnify the surgical field multiple times, and nerve stimulators are used to safely locate the nerve during the operation. This makes parotid gland surgery safer concerning facial nerve function.

What are the characteristics of submandibular gland surgery?

Submandibular gland surgery is performed under general anesthesia while the patient is lying down. A small incision is made in the neck, and the submandibular gland is removed. Partial paralysis of the facial nerve, limited to the branch going to the corner of the mouth, can rarely occur during submandibular gland surgery.

What is a ranula, and how is it treated?

A ranula is a benign salivary gland cyst that specifically affects the sublingual salivary gland, and its treatment is surgical. Masses related to small salivary glands can occur anywhere inside the mouth, and their surgeries are specific to these regions.

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