Salivary gland stones treatment
Salivary gland stones are concrements formed in the glands of the oral cavity due to inflammation. As a result, patients experience swelling, impaired salivation and acute pain. More than half of the cases require surgery: endoscopic minimally invasive intervention (sialoscopy) or stone crushing (lithotripsy).
A stone in the salivary glands is a complex tissue formation (so-called concrements). It may also be called sialolithiasis, calculous sialadenitis, or salivary stone disease. These stones consist mainly of calcium salts. Small stones often form over a long period, increasing in size by about two millimetres each year.
People have three pairs of salivary glands:
- Parotid - in the region of the earlobe;
- Submandibular - under the jaw;
- Sublingual - under the tongue.
In most cases (95%), salivary stones are localised in the submandibular glands. In the parotid glands, similar formations occur in only 8% of cases. They are most rarely formed in the sublingual salivary glands.
Small stones are easily washed out of the ducts by saliva, and larger stones remain in the gland, blocking the lumen. In addition, as the stones grow, the risk of an abscess (the cavity with pus) formation increases.
What is the cause of stones in the salivary gland?
Common causes are infectious diseases recently treated but have left some inflammation sources. But still, the main reason for inflammation of the salivary gland is insufficient maintenance of oral cavity hygiene, which leads to blockage of salivary flow.
Risk factors for sialadenitis are dehydration (lack of water in the body), fever and hypercalcemia (high calcium level). These are complex diseases directly related to salivary flow, which leads to complications. ENT doctors can only provide salivary gland stones therapy after treating these conditions.
Concrements are formed as a result of unfavourable factors, including:
- Inflammation or infections in the area of salivary glands (cyst, granuloma);
- Injuries of salivary glands passage and ducts (impact, blow, or destruction of teeth);
- Disturbance of metabolic processes in the body, especially calcium metabolism disruption;
- The presence of tumours;
- Violation of saliva production and flow.
Symptoms related to salivary gland stones
Sialolithiasis has pretty pronounced signs, which helps the patient seek help from specialists timely. The following symptoms accompany the appearance of stones in the salivary glands:
- Inflammation in the salivary glands, where concrements are formed (parotid space, neck or jaws);
- Discomfort and pain while opening the mouth or swallowing;
- Acute attacks of pain in the affected area;
- Tension and soreness in the ears, jaw, and cheeks areas;
- Drying of the oral cavity membranes;
- Production of mucus with pus instead of saliva;
- The appearance of an unpleasant taste in the mouth;
- Loss of appetite;
- Increased temperature.
If the stone in the salivary glands is not removed, the symptoms will progress and worsen. Therefore, it is essential not to engage in self-medication but visit a doctor to remove the stones in time.
How do doctors diagnose stones in the salivary gland?
The primary signs of the disease are often visible to the specialist with the naked eye. For example, enlarged salivary glands, painful sensations and purulent discharge indicate salivary gland stones.
But there may be complications, so the doctor always directs the patient to additional diagnostic procedures. It helps to see the whole picture of the disease and prevent possible complications. So the ENT specialists also provide:
- Palpation of the inflamed area;
- Examination of the salivary duct with a probe is prescribed only if the disease is not at the acute stage;
- Sialography is an x-ray examination method that fills the salivary ducts with a radioactive substance. It allows doctors to determine the location of the concrements;
- Ultrasound of the salivary glands diagnosing and assessing the condition of soft tissues in salivary glands.
Treatment for salivary gland stones
The choice of the optimal treatment method depends on the stage of the disease. Surgery is not required at the beginning of sialolithiasis; the stone may come out on its own over time. Initially, doctors prescribe medication to relieve symptoms and help the stone to come out:
- Drugs to increase the production of saliva;
- Antibacterial drugs;
- Anti-inflammatory drugs reduce the severity of the pain.
Surgical intervention is required if the concrements are large and prevent the patient from speaking, chewing, or swallowing. Another indication is a chronic form of the condition.
Stone removal from the salivary gland can be done in several ways:
- The typical operation involves cutting with a scalpel;
- A low-traumatic way to eliminate the disease is lithotripsy (ultrasound crushing). It removes stones even from the most difficult-to-reach areas.
- Sialoscopy of the salivary glands involves the removal of the endoscopic stones. It is an alternative to surgical intervention because of its advantages.
As supplementary methods, the doctor recommends eating a full-fledged diet, refusing too hard food, smoking and alcohol. ENT doctor also prescribes massaging the affected areas to observe saliva flow.
It is crucial noting that the treatment must be carried out under the supervision of an ENT specialist. Attempts to get rid of this disorder on your own can provoke the release of purulent content.
Further prognosis of the disease depends on eliminating conditions that lead to stone formation: disorders of mineral metabolism, pathology of the glands and bad habits.
If therapy is started on time, the prognosis is promising. However, patients must follow the doctor's recommendations to avoid worsenings.
What is non-invasive treatment available for salivary gland stones?
Modern methods of destruction of stones - lithotripsy (using ultrasound) do not require invasive intervention. Saliva-reducing drugs, antibiotics, and anti-inflammatory drugs effectively relieve inflammation and symptoms.
Can I go for salivary stones treatment abroad?
Foreign clinics are modern multidisciplinary centres where diagnostics and treatment of salivary gland stones are carried out following European standards. Patients worldwide get only tested and proven methods of operative treatment. Doctors use the latest technology from leading manufacturers to provide the best result.
What are doctors responsible for salivary gland stones?
When the first complaints appear, it is necessary to contact an otolaryngologist (the so-called ENT specialist). He prescribes the required diagnostic procedures and therapy. In addition, the otolaryngologist might refer you to a maxillofacial surgeon if extensive surgical intervention is needed.
How to find a clinic for salivary gland stones?
AiroMedical is a team of professionals who will select the clinic and doctor needed in each case.
Is salivary stone surgery a major procedure?
Modern methods of surgical removal are minimally invasive (endoscopic) or non-invasive (laser crushing). Therefore, they do not carry traumatic incisions, post-surgery complications or prolonged recovery. Usually, the procedure lasts less than an hour, and the patient can quickly recover.
Where can I get Salivary gland stones treatment?
What are the best clinics for Salivary gland stones treatment?
Who are the best doctors for Salivary gland stones?
Prof. Dr. med. Barbara Wollenberg from University Hospital rechts der Isar Munich
Prof. Dr. Jordi Coromina from Teknon Medical Centre Barcelona
Prof. Dr. med. Markus Suckfull from Academic Hospital Martha-Maria Munich
Prof. Dr. med. Markus Jungehulsing from MEOCLINIC Berlin
Prof. Dr. Sami Katircioglu from Memorial Sisli Hospital Istanbul