Head & Neck

About Salivary Gland Surgery: Submandibular Gland Excision

The submandibular glands are large paired (left and right)  salivary glands located in below the lower jaw with the salivary ducts opening at the floor of the mouth just beneath the front of the tongue.

Submandibular gland excision is a surgical operation to completely remove the gland. 

There are various different Indications or reasons  for submandibular gland excision:

  • Benign tumour
  • Benign tumour with malignant potential
  • Suspected or confirmed cancer
  • Chronic submandibular gland inflammation
  • Salivary duct stone where the stone is embedded within the gland

The surgery is performed under general anaesthesia. The usual approach to the submandibular gland is an incision made from at the upper part of the neck below the lower jawline. In some patients, it may be possible and desirable to use a cosmetically-favourable modified facelift approach to minimise the visibility of incision. 

The submandibular gland is carefully dissected, taking care to identify and preserve vital structures that are located in and around the gland, in particular the:

  • Hypoglossal nerve – that controls the muscles of the tongue 
  • Lingual nerve – that supplies sensation to the front of the mouth
  • Marginal mandibular branch of the facial nerve – that controls the muscles of the chin and lower lip.

If there is suspected cancer, your surgeon may arrange for pathological examination of tissues removed during the surgery. If the diagnosis of cancer is confirmed, your surgeon will proceed to completely remove some or all of the surrounding lymph nodes of the neck on the same side. The decision to be made at surgery will need to be explained and discussed with you before surgery.