Parotidectomy is a surgery performed to remove either a small portion or the entire parotid gland. The parotid glands are located under the skin in front of the ear overlying the jaw bone. Most commonly a parotidectomy is performed to remove a mass or lump within the gland, or to remove the gland in cases of recurrent stones or infections. The parotid gland is closely associated with the facial nerve which controls movements of the face such as raising the eyebrow and smiling. As such parotidectomy is a very challenging surgery, in which removal of the gland must be balanced with preserving the facial nerve. Prior to surgery a surgeon, in the case of a mass or lump, the surgeon may perform order a CT or MRI exam to help determine the anatomy of the parotid gland.
Parotidectomy is performed in the operating room under general anesthesia. A cut is made on the skin around the ear, similar to the incisions used during a face-lift. The facial nerve is identified as it enters the salivary gland and the mass is carefully removed. Often a small defect is left in the gland which can be “filled-in” using soft-tissue and muscle flaps. Patients are typically observed overnight in the hospital and discharged the day after surgery.
Parotidectomy is a technically challenging surgery. Surgeons may use a facial nerve monitor, or a device placed on the skin to help in identification of the facial nerve. For small lesions, minimally invasive incisions may be used to help camouflage any scars.
If you have a condition that requires parotidectomy, please contact Dr. William Armstrong or Dr. Sunil Verma for evaluation.