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Salivary glands

Salivary glands

Diseases of the salivary glands

Salivary gland stones

Salivary gland stones are mainly found in the pairs of the major salivary glands of the head: in the parotid glands (Glandula parotis), the submandibular glands (Glandula submandibularis), as well as the sublingual glands (Glandula sublingualis). Typical symptoms for salivary gland stones are food conditioned, recurrent swellings of the gland, soaring infections to the point of distinctly painful ulcerous inflammation.


Therapeutic options:

1. Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy (ESWL) (fragmentation of salivary gland stones): can be performed when the patient is showing no signs of inflammation. Lithotripsy is a non-invasive procedure, which avoids risks of any kind of facial nerve injury, of the Frey’s Syndrome (auriculotemporal sweating) or scars in the facial area. The conservative procedure which is an ambulatory surgery, requires no anaesthesia or sedation, allows the treatment of high risk surgical patients and is pain-free. The treatment generally takes place three times with one-month intervals. Before every lithotripsy treatment a ultrasound check is done to assess the success of the therapy. As soon as no stone is visible in the gland anymore, the treatment can be stopped. The success rate of 60-70% is very high.

Informationflyer Lithropsy


2. Sialendoscopy, the endoscopic removal of salivary gland stones, is another gentle and minimally invasive method of treatment. It has been performed in Lucerne in combination with the ESWL therapy since the year 2002. With this method the system of salivary duct cells is first extended and afterwards the semi-fixed endoscopes are inserted. The salivary gland is localized and consecutively removed at sight by means of meshes, irrigation or other instruments. Big salivary gland stones can be fragmented before their removal. This surgery can often be performed under local anaesthesia. For the removal of big salivary gland stones that have to be fragmented first, surgery under general anaesthesia is required. The success rate is, depending on location and size of the stone, approximately 80%.

In Switzerland, the ENT-department of the Kantonsspital Luzern is the only centre offering these two methods of treatment.

Broadcast with Dr. G. Papst about the topic of “salivary gland stones” in the TV series “Puls” by Schweizer Fernsehen. (Swiss TV), 3 October 2005