Head & Neck

About Salivary Gland Surgery: Parotidectomy

The parotid glands are large paired (left and right)  salivary glands located in front and just below the ear.

Parotidectomy is a surgical operation to remove a part or whole of the parotid salivary glands.

There are various different Indications or reasons  for parotidectomy:

  • Benign tumour
  • Benign tumour with malignant potential
  • Suspected or confirmed cancer

The surgery is performed under general anaesthesia. The usual approach to the parotid gland is an incision made from in front of the ear and down into the neck. In some patients, it may be possible and desirable to use a cosmetically-favourable modified facelift approach to minimise the visibility of incision. 

The parotid gland is carefully dissected, taking care to identify and preserve vital structures that are located in and around the gland, in particular the main trunk and fine branches of the facial nerve which supply the muscles of the lips, cheeks, eyelids and forehead. 

A part or all of the parotid gland will be removed depending on the size and location of the diseased parotid tissue. The extent of surgery depends on pathological examination of tissues removed during the surgery. For example, if the diagnosis of cancer is confirmed, your surgeon will proceed to completely remove all the tissue of the parotid gland as well as some or all of the surrounding lymph nodes of the neck. The decision to be made at surgery will need to be explained and discussed with you before surgery.