Sialoendoscopy is used to help diagnose and treat disorders of the salivary glands.
The human body has three pairs of salivary glands responsible for the production and flow of saliva. The glands connect to mouth by way of tiny ducts.
- The parotid glands are in the cheek area
- The submandibular glands are below the mouth
- The sublingual glands are below the tongue
Conditions such as dehydration, poor diet, certain medications, or autoimmune diseases can thicken or decrease the production of saliva, making conditions favorable for salivary stones to form. These stones are referred to as sialoliths. They can cause pain, inflammation, swelling, and infection. The salivary ducts can also become restricted or blocked.
This procedure may be used alone, or in combination with other diagnostic tests, such as an ultrasound, X-ray, MRI, or CT scan. A tiny scope, equipped with a camera and light, can be inserted into the salivary gland to help assess and possibly treat the problem.
Who is a Candidate?
Patients with suspected (or confirmed) cases of salivary stones are a potential candidate. Those with narrowing of the salivary duct or unexplained swelling of the salivary glands may also benefit from sialoendoscopy.
Sometimes salivary stones can be removed by increasing fluid intake, massaging the area, or sucking on sour candies. If the stones are sizeable or deep, sialoendoscopy may be needed to help locate and remove the stone(s). However, if the stones are too large, they may need to be removed surgically.
How it Works
Sialoendoscopy is generally an outpatient procedure that is completed under local or light anesthesia. The tiny scope is inserted into the mouth and introduced into the appropriate salivary gland. Using the light and camera, the duct and salivary gland can be thoroughly examined. Any narrow or blocked areas will be identified and stones (if present) can be located.
If stones are appropriately sized, tiny surgical instruments can remove them. Sialoendoscopy may also be used simultaneously with a laser. The laser breaks up the stone into smaller pieces while a basket-like tool helps extract the stone fragments. Special dilating tools may also be used to widen any restricted areas.
If infection is present, antibiotics will likely be prescribed.
This procedure is minimally invasive with no skin incision required. The risks are minimal and the success rates are very high. Also, sialoendoscopy has reduced the percentage of patients who require complete removal of the affected salivary gland. Sialoendoscopy may also find and treat stones previously missed by other diagnostic methods.