Parotidectomy is surgery to remove all or part of the parotid gland. These glands make saliva. They are located in the jaw, in front of and below each ear.
The parotid gland is the largest of the salivary glands.
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The surgery is done to:
Problems from the procedure can happen. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:
Before your procedure, talk to your doctor about ways to manage factors that may increase your risk of complications, such as:
Before the surgery, your doctor may:
Be sure that you have a ride to and from the hospital the day of your surgery.
General anesthesia will be used. You will be asleep during the procedure.
A cut will be made in front of the ear and down into the neck. The nerves in the area will be located and protected during surgery. There are 2 types of parotidectomy surgery. The type you will have depends on why the surgery is being done.
If you have a tumor and it is above the facial nerve, then a superficial parotidectomy is done. The tumor and affected tissue can usually be removed safely without harming the nerve.
If you have a tumor that surrounds or grows into the facial nerve, a total parotidectomy is done. The tumor and affected tissue are removed. The nerve may be partially removed.
A total parotidectomy may also be done for chronic parotid inflammation or infection.
After all tissue has been removed, the area will be closed with sutures. A drain will be placed behind your ear. It will be used to remove any fluids, such as blood and saliva, from the wound.
Anesthesia will prevent pain during surgery. Pain and discomfort after the procedure can be managed with medications.
Most will go home the day after surgery, once they are able to eat and walk around on their own. Some may need to stay longer if there are any complications.
After the surgery is over, you will be moved to a recovery room. The hospital staff will monitor you. The staff will:
During your stay, the hospital staff will take steps to reduce your chance of infection, such as:
There are also steps you can take to reduce your chance of infection, such as:
To help ensure a smooth recovery:
Contact your doctor if your recovery is not progressing as expected or you develop complications such as:
If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.
American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery
American Cancer Society
Canadian Cancer Society
Canadian Society of Otolaryngology
Chronic recurrent parotitis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated May 28, 2015. Accessed May 11, 2016.
Ghorayeb B. Parotidectomy: frequently asked questions. Otolaryngology Houston website. Available at: http://www.ghorayeb.com/parotidectomyfaq.html. Updated October 4, 2014. Accessed May 11, 2016.
Salivary gland tumors. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated January 22, 2015. Accessed May 11, 2016.
Surgical procedures: Neck dissection. Greater Baltimore Medical Center website. Available at: http://www.gbmc.org/body.cfm?id=198. Accessed May 11, 2016.
Last reviewed June 2016 by Michael Woods, MD Last Updated: 5/23/2014