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What is Parotid Gland

The parotid gland is the largest of the three major salivary glands (submandibular, parotid, sublingual). There are two Parotid glands located in front of the ears.

The parotid gland is responsible for the secretion of saliva. Saliva functions in the digestion of food, killing bacteria in the mouth and preventing tooth decay.

Salivary gland tumors often start in the parotid gland. Most parotid tumors are benign, i.e., non-cancerous.

Why is Parotidectomy Performed?

A parotidectomy may be done to treat-

  • Benign parotid gland tumors
  • Malignant parotid gland tumors
  • Chronic sialadenitis
  • Chronic sialolithiasis
  • viral infections

What is a Parotidectomy?

A parotidectomy is a surgery that involves the removal of the parotid gland.

There are two types of parotidectomy:
Superficial parotidectomy-

  • Superficial parotidectomy involves the removal of the superficial (outer part) of the parotid gland. Superficial parotidectomy is done by making an incision in front of the ear way down the neck. This incision does not often affect how the face moves because it doesn't damage the facial nerve.

Total parotidectomy-

  • Total parotidectomy refers to the removal of the entire Parotid gland. Total parotidectomy involves making an incision in front of the ear way down the neck, similar to Superficial parotidectomy. The facial nerve and surrounding tissues may be removed depending upon the tumor's location; this could affect your face's movements.

In some instances, Lymph nodes in the neck may be removed; this is called a lymphadenectomy; this may require the removal of connective tissue, muscles, nerves, and blood vessels. To do this, a long incision (cut) is made in the neck.

What are the Risks Associated with Parotidectomy?

  • Failure to attain anesthesia.
  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Damage to the Facial nerve.
  • Frey's syndrome (A condition caused by facial nerve damage causes facial flushing and sweating while eating, or even thinking, dreaming, or talking about food.)
  • Loss of hearing sensation in the ear
  • Dry eyes.
  • Salivary fistula- It is an abnormal opening in the skin through which saliva may leak through.

Before surgery, your surgeon will talk to you about any other risks based on your health and the specific surgery you are having.

Recovery after Parotidectomy

The recovery and hospital stay from a parotidectomy will depend on the extent and type of procedure.

  • Take prescribed medications as directed.
  • Eat a bland diet, avoiding sour, tart, or spicy foods.
  • Treat constipation as needed to reduce straining when having a bowel movement.
  • Sleep with your head elevated.
  • Talk to your healthcare team about when you should resume your pre-operative medications, specifically medications that can affect the blood, like blood thinners, aspirin, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (i.e., ibuprofen, naproxen)
  • Avoid drinking alcohol.
  • It would help if you quit smoking because this will fasten the wound healing.
  • Avoid lifting anything over 10 pounds
  • Avoid bending to lift objects or exercise until instructed to do so.
  • Avoid air travel for two weeks after surgery.
  • Perform incisional care and showering as directed.

Happy Patients


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