Main Line Health otolaryngology and audiology experts treat and manage conditions affecting your ears, nose and throat at locations in the Philadelphia area.
What is a parotidectomy?
Your parotid gland is a major salivary (saliva-producing) gland found high up the neck just between the ear and the cheek. Having the gland removed (parotidectomy) is usually recommended when a mass or tumor has developed in the gland. Most parotid gland tumors turn out to be benign (not cancerous).
The tumor often starts out as a painless lump that you can feel with your fingers. If not removed, the mass will continue to grow and may affect your facial appearance and movement. The tumor may also become cancerous over time.
Diagnosis begins with a CT scan and fine needle biopsy to determine whether the mass is cancerous or not. A biopsy can also help your surgeon determine the best surgical approach and how much of the surrounding area may be involved.
What to expect from a parotidectomy
Parotidectomy is a complex surgery involving careful monitoring of your facial nerves, which run through the parotid gland and control things like your ability to smile, kiss, and close your eyes. Your surgeon must carefully watch the facial nerves throughout the procedure and bring skilled precision to make sure the nerves are not damaged.
It may take some time after surgery for your facial muscles to recover and you may experience short- and long-term facial muscle weakness. Many people wonder if their ability to produce saliva will be affected by this surgery. Surprisingly, in most cases, saliva production is not affected because there are six salivary glands (three on each side).
Talk with your doctor about your particular condition, and the benefits and risks of parotid gland surgery.