Ultrasonography and colour doppler sonography of salivary glands in primary Sjögren's syndrome

Clin Rheumatol. 2001;20(3):213-9. doi: 10.1007/s100670170068.


To examine either the ultrasonographic (US) features of the parotids and submandibular glands or the blood flow alterations that may occur in the salivary glands of patients with primary Sjögren's syndrome (pSS) we studied 30 female patients with pSS and 30 controls suffering from dry mouth not due to pSS. All measurements were taken by the same examiner, who used the same equipment to avoid interobserver variability. The US parameters recorded (parenchymal homogeneity, echogenicity, size of the glands and posterior glandular border) were scored according to a previously described scoring system. For each waveform, peak systolic velocity (PSV) and resistive index (RI) were measured at the external carotid artery in the examination of the parotids and at the facial artery within the submandibular glands before and during lemon juice stimulation. On the basis of the degree of chronic inflammatory changes at minor salivary gland (MSG) biopsy, chronic sialadenitis (CS) was defined as mild in 10 and severe in 20 pSS patients. Abnormal US scores were obtained in 26/30 (86.6%) pSS patients and in 9/30 (30%) controls. Moreover, in pSS patients the US scores were sigificantly higher than in the control group (p=-0.0001). The mean (+/- SD) difference between the PSV values taken from parotids and submandibular glands before and during lemon juice stimulation was statistically significant (p=0.003 and p=0.01, respectively) in the controls. On the other hand, no significant changes in the PSV values were found in the whole group of pSS patients. However, the changes in PSV values before and during lemon juice stimulation were statistically significant in both parotids (p=0.019) and submandibular glands (p=0.012), and not significantly different from those in the controls in pSS patients with mild CS. The variability of RI taken from the salivary glands before and during lemon juice stimulation was not statistically significant in either pSS patients or controls. US abnormalities were detected in the majority of pSS patients and their severity was significantly greater than those recorded in the controls. Of the colour Doppler sonographic (CDS) parameters only PSV was influenced by the degree of chronic inflammation, as shown at the MSG biopsy, suggesting that PSV may reflect the vascular changes occurring in the salivary glands during the course of an autoimmune disease such as pSS.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Biopsy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Salivary Glands / blood supply
  • Salivary Glands / diagnostic imaging*
  • Sjogren's Syndrome / diagnostic imaging*
  • Sjogren's Syndrome / pathology
  • Ultrasonography, Doppler, Color