The diagnosis and surgical management of major salivary gland pathology.
BACKGROUND: Major salivary gland pathology is an uncommon but important finding which may initially present to general dental and medical practitioners. The consequences of misdiagnosis are important, as acute obstruction and neoplasia are the main pathological lesions diagnosed. The purpose of this study was to analyze a consecutive series of major gland pathologies treated surgically to determine diagnostic and treatment problems. METHODS: A retrospective analysis of all cases of the major salivary glands treated on an inpatient surgical basis over a five-year period by the Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Unit of the Royal Adelaide Hospital was performed. Particular emphasis was placed on the referring diagnosis as compared to the final diagnosis. RESULTS: Fifty-four patients had surgical management of 62 major salivary glands over the five-year period. By gland, 18 (33.3 per cent) were parotid, 35 (51.1 per cent) submandibular and nine (16.6 per cent) were sublingual. Fifty-one (82 per cent) of all lesions were inflammatory and 11 (18 per cent) neoplastic. The most common presentations were swelling (72 per cent) and pain (33 per cent). Most patients were referred by general dentists (37 per cent), followed by general medical practitioners (32 per cent) and specialists (28 per cent). The referring diagnosis was correct for only 45 per cent of the dentists but 76 per cent for the general medical practitioners and 87 per cent for the specialists. Only two of the 11 gland neoplasms were correctly identified as neoplasms, both by specialists. The morbidity of the surgical treatment was low. CONCLUSION: The general dental practitioner is often the first health professional with the opportunity to assess salivary gland pathology, and therefore needs to be aware of the presenting signs and symptoms of major salivary gland lesions.
Lawler, B; Pierce, A; Sambrook, PJ; Jones, RH; Goss, AN
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