Management of drooling in individuals with neurodisability: a surgical experience

Dev Med Child Neurol. 2001 Jun;43(6):379-83. doi: 10.1017/s0012162201000718.


From 1975 to 1 January 1999, 1103 neurologically involved patients (mean age 13.2 years; 686 males, 417 females) referred with problematic drooling, or sialorrhea, were assessed at a pediatric rehabilitation center by a team consisting of an otolaryngologist, speech pathologist, and a dentist. The initial standard treatment for persistent sialorrhea (in the compliant or aware patient) is oral-motor training. A group of 522 patients with persistent significant drooling after a minimum of 6 months of oral-motor training, or profuse drooling in the presence of a low cognitive level, underwent surgery, usually when over 6 years of age. From 1978 to 1 January 1998, the operation of first choice was submandibular duct relocation (SDR), and was completed in a total of 226 patients. Midway through 1988, sublingual gland excision was also completed at the time of submandibular duct relocation (SDRSGE); 249 of these procedures have been completed to January 1st 1999. Those patients who had SDRSGE had significantly fewer complications that required additional surgery than those that had SDR only. However, the impact of surgery on the drooling as evaluated in subsets of both groups (SDR n=115, SDRSGE n=106) was statistically similar. The study of 11 children with salivary gland radionuclitide scans to determine the effect of submandibular duct surgery on gland function was inconclusive. The pattern of oral-motor function in 26 children studied after SDRSGE surgery suggested that those children with severe impairment of volitional motor function and profuse drooling tended to have a poorer outcome following surgery compared to those with milder impairments.

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Deglutition
  • Developmental Disabilities / complications*
  • Disabled Persons* / psychology
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Patient Care Team
  • Patient Selection
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Radionuclide Imaging
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Sialorrhea / classification
  • Sialorrhea / diagnostic imaging
  • Sialorrhea / etiology*
  • Sialorrhea / physiopathology
  • Sialorrhea / psychology
  • Sialorrhea / surgery*
  • Submandibular Gland / surgery*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome