Salivary Gland Disorders

The salivary glands make saliva and release it into the mouth, which helps you chew, swallow and digest your food. Many disorders of the salivary glands require surgery to repair. At the Head and Neck Surgery Division of the Department of Otolaryngology, University of Michigan Health System, our skilled surgeons have significant understanding of diseases affecting the salivary glands. And our high volume of salivary gland procedures means proven results in the operating room.

When it comes to surgical treatment of the salivary glands, it’s critical to choose a surgeon with the experience and ability to monitor the facial nerve, which runs through the middle of the salivary gland. Any operation puts the facial nerve at risk for injury, which can include facial weakness or partial to full paralysis of one side of the face.

We treat the full scope of salivary gland disorders, including:

  • Stones in the salivary glands (causes blocked ducts)
  • Benign tumors
  • Malignant tumors
  • Viral or bacterial infections
  • Salivary gland abscess

We assess salivary gland disorders first with a thorough patient history and physical exam, which may include a flexible laryngoscopy (a thin scope used to internally view the salivary glands). A needle biopsy may also be performed. Imaging tests conducted may include an ultrasound, or a contrast enhanced CT scan or MRI.

Our multidisciplinary team of experts from Otolaryngology (ear, nose and throat), Head and Neck Surgery, Head and Neck Oncology and Radiation Oncology review your case together and present your best treatment options.

Salivary gland disorders have different treatments depending on diagnosis. For benign and malignant tumors, surgery is the core treatment. A malignancy may also require radiation therapy and occasionally chemotherapy. We remove stones surgically. Infections are generally treated with antibiotic therapy with or without surgery. And if there is an abscess, we typically drain it surgically. We use both minimally invasive surgery techniques and open surgical approaches, depending on the patient and specific situation. Stones are often removed endoscopically. Some tumors can be removed through minimal access surgery, while others require an open technique.

Make an Appointment

To make an appointment, please call 734-936-8051.