Parotid Gland Surgery

What are parotid glands? What is their function?

Parotid Gland

Parotid glands are two of the largest salivary glands present just in front of the ears. They secrete saliva into the mouth and help with mastication.

Occasionally stones in the duct or tumours may lead to the requirement for parotid gland surgery. 

Parotidectomy is a surgery for the removal of a part or the complete parotid gland.

Am I a candidate for parotidectomy?

Parotidectomy is considered when conservative treatment for recurrent infection fails, a tumour requires biopsy or a stone is causing blockage of secretions.

How do I prepare for parotidectomy?

You will be required to fast for 6-8 hours prior to your surgery. Discuss your medications with your doctor and you will be advised which can be omitted and which need to be taken on the day of surgery. Inform your doctor if you have any signs of an infection such as fever or a productive cough. You will be briefed about the entire procedure and any potential risks associated with the surgery.

How is parotidectomy performed?

Parotidectomy is performed under general anaesthesia. Your doctor makes a small incision in front of the ear and down into the neck, to remove a part or all the parotid gland. The incision is then closed with stitches. At the end of the surgery, a drain is placed behind the ear to drain fluids such as blood. The entire procedure takes about 3 to 4 hours to complete.

What can I expect after parotidectomy?

Following the surgery, you will be transferred to the recovery room, where you will be propped up in bed to allow wound drainage and reduce swelling. You will be instructed not sleep on the operated side. Parotidectomy usually requires an overnight stay in hospital. You will be able to eat and drink after the surgery. Your doctor will prescribe pain medication to relieve any pain that you may experience. The drain is removed 3-4 days post operatively.

You are advised to rest for 1- 2 weeks and avoid strenuous activities, Ask you surgeon if it is OK to drive. Care should be taken while showering, bathing and shaving. Avoid applying cosmetics such as colognes or scented creams until the wound heals completely. Soreness or discomfort will reduce in 1-2 weeks. Avoid smoking to allow your body to heal. Consult your doctor if you experience redness, swelling, bleeding or discharge, increased pain or weakness in your facial muscles.

What are the outcomes of parotidectomy?

As with any surgery, parotidectomy may involve certain risks and complications such as blood clot beneath the skin, facial weakness due to nerve damage, numbness of the face and ear, collection of saliva under the skin and Frey’s syndrome, a condition in which the cheek becomes red and sweaty when you eat.

What is the cost of the procedure?

We will provide you with a full explanation of the costs of the operation to assist you in your decision to proceed. The costs will vary depending on your level of private health insurance.

Ongoing research on parotidectomy include:

  1. Abt NB, Derakhshan A, Naunheim MR, Osborn HA, Deschler DG. Facial nerve sacrifice during parotidectomy: A cautionary tale in pathologic diagnosis. Am J Otolaryngol. 2017 Jan 18. pii: S0196-0709(17)30002-9. doi: 10.1016/j.amjoto.2017.01.022. [Epub ahead of print]


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