There are multiple saliva glands in the body. These include two large glands in the cheeks (parotid glands), two medium-sized glands under the jaw (submandibular glands) and several smaller glands throughout the mouth. When the ducts of these glands become blocked by stones, scarring or other disease process, glands can development painful swelling and become infected. In addition to requiring antibiotics, evaluating the glands for possible dilation of the ducts or removal of the stones should be done by an ENT specialist.
When swellings of the glands do not respond to traditional treatments, a benign or malignant tumor may be present. Removal of all or part of the gland, may be required. ENT surgeons use meticulous techniques — such as facial nerve monitoring — to safely remove these glands while preserving function of normal structures surrounding them, as well as the delicate underlying facial nerves.
Led by Sepehr Oliaei, MD, MultiCare Ear, Nose and Throat specialists were the first in the South Sound region to offer minimally-invasive, endoscopically-assisted treatment of various salivary duct disorders, such as stones and ductal narrowing. Use of ultrathin endoscopes (less than 2mm diameter) with a technique called sialendoscopy now allows us to see directly into the salivary glands to diagnose and even treat various salivary gland disorders. Small stones in the ducts can be seen, grasped and removed using this special endoscope. Dilations and directed medication delivery can also be performed with sialendoscopes.