Objective: To review the results of surgical management of chronic parotid sialadenitis refractory to medical therapy, with particular respect to long-term symptom resolution and development of post-operative complications.
Methods: A retrospective review of parotidectomies performed for chronic intractable parotid sialadenitis. Information was collected about presentation, pre-operative investigations, surgical treatment, post-operative complications and outcome.
Results: 36 parotidectomies were performed for chronic sialadenitis between 1991 and 2002. Age at presentation was 56±9.6 years, with median symptom duration of 2.3 years. For patients with non-specific presentations, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was the most useful pre-operative investigation. Superficial parotidectomy with duct preservation was the main treatment with a 94 per cent success rate, and near-total parotidectomy was reserved for patients with extensive deep-lobe involvement. Duct ligation significantly increased the risk of transient facial palsy. There was a 56 per cent and 22 per cent incidence of temporary facial paresis and Frey's syndrome, respectively.
Conclusions: Controversies exist regarding the optimal pre-operative investigation and surgical treatment of chronic parotid sialadenitis. We advocate magnetic resonance image (MRI) scanning for patients with non-specific symptoms of sialadenitis, and sialography in the presence of reasonable clinical suspicion. We propose superficial parotidectomy without parotid duct ligation as the standard of care, with near-total parotidectomy reserved for extensive deep-lobe disease.