Sublingual gland: MR features of normal and diseased states

AJR Am J Roentgenol. 1999 Mar;172(3):717-22. doi: 10.2214/ajr.172.3.10063867.


Objective: We describe the MR features of the sublingual gland in normal and diseased states.

Subjects and methods: We used MR imaging to assess age-related changes in size and signal intensity of normal sublingual glands in 60 control subjects. The MR features of sublingual glands were also studied in 70 patients with cancer, cellulitis of the sublingual space, Sjögren's syndrome, or ranula.

Results: MR imaging efficiently revealed normal sublingual glands. On T1-weighted images, the MR signal intensity of the sublingual gland was lower than that of the surrounding fat but higher than that of muscle. The sublingual glands showed age-related decreases in size, with approximately 25% of the thickness present in the second decade of life being lost by the seventh decade. T1-weighted signal intensity of the parotid gland increased with age, but the signal intensity of the sublingual and submandibular glands did not. T1-weighted signal intensity of carcinomas in and near the sublingual space was lower than that of the sublingual glands, but T2-weighted signal intensity of carcinomas exceeded that of the glands. Gadolinium enhancement occasionally diminished the contrast between invading carcinomas and the glands. T1-weighted MR imaging showed that sublingual glands affected by Sjögren's syndrome exhibit features analogous to those of the other major salivary glands; however, the sublingual glands seemed to be less severely involved overall in this syndrome than the other major glands. We found that using fat suppression and short inversion time inversion recovery may be useful for assessment of sialadenitis of the gland.

Conclusion: MR imaging is useful in depicting normal and diseased states of the sublingual gland.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aging / pathology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Mandibular Neoplasms / pathology
  • Middle Aged
  • Mouth Neoplasms / pathology
  • Salivary Gland Diseases / pathology*
  • Sjogren's Syndrome / pathology
  • Sublingual Gland / anatomy & histology*
  • Sublingual Gland / pathology
  • Sublingual Gland Neoplasms / pathology*