Investigation of radiosialadenitis during fractioned irradiation: sialoscintigraphical and histomorphological findings in rats

Eur Arch Otorhinolaryngol. 2003 Oct;260(9):513-7. doi: 10.1007/s00405-003-0631-x. Epub 2003 May 22.


Xerostomia is the most debilitating side effect induced by irradiation of head and neck tumours and is caused by irradiation damage to the salivary glands. The aim of this study was to correlate structural histomorphological damages and sialoscintigraphical findings during fractioned radiotherapy. The head and neck area of 27 WAG/RijH rats was irradiated with 60Co-gamma rays (60 Gy/30f 6 weeks). To evaluate salivary gland function, a port system was implanted, and 99mTc-pertechnetate was applied at different stages of irradiation (0, 16, 30, 46, 60 and 6 months post-irradiation). In the course of treatment the parotid glands were examined histopathologically. Rat salivary glands developed a dose-dependent radiosialadenitis. After a dose of 16 Gy an intra- and extra-cellular oedema developed in the salivary glands. Progressive vacuolisation (30 Gy) developed into lipomatosis (46 Gy) and necrotic changes (60 Gy) in the parotid glands. Six months after irradiation treatment, the chronic histomorphological damages corresponded to stage II according to Seifert. The corresponding loss in gland function investigated by measurement of the 99mTc-pertechnetate uptake of the salivary glands was 13% (16 Gy), 26% (30 Gy), 57% (46 Gy), 75% (60 Gy) and 66.5% (6 months post-irradiation). The presented animal model is suitable to demonstrate the correlation of histomorphological and sialoscintigraphical findings.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cobalt Radioisotopes / adverse effects
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Dose Fractionation, Radiation
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Radiation
  • Gamma Rays / adverse effects
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Male
  • Radiation Injuries / diagnostic imaging
  • Radiation Injuries / pathology*
  • Radiation Tolerance
  • Radionuclide Imaging
  • Radiotherapy, Adjuvant / adverse effects
  • Rats
  • Salivary Glands / pathology*
  • Salivary Glands / radiation effects
  • Sialadenitis / diagnostic imaging
  • Sialadenitis / etiology
  • Sialadenitis / pathology*
  • Sodium Pertechnetate Tc 99m
  • Xerostomia / diagnostic imaging
  • Xerostomia / etiology
  • Xerostomia / pathology*


  • Cobalt Radioisotopes
  • Sodium Pertechnetate Tc 99m