Preservation of the superficial lobe for deep-lobe parotid tumors: a better aesthetic outcome

Ear Nose Throat J. 2005 Aug;84(8):518, 520-2, 524.


Deep-lobe parotid tumors are relatively uncommon. Most of these tumors present as external masses. They can also present in the oral cavity or oropharynx. Magnetic resonance imaging and ultrasound-guided fine-needle aspiration for biopsy and cytology have made it possible to establish a definitive diagnosis and identify the exact location of the tumor in almost all cases before surgery. Traditionally, deep-lobe tumors have been managed by a formal superficial parotidectomy and identification and preservation of the facial nerve, followed by removal of the deep lobe that contains the tumor Superficialparotidectomy is associated in most cases with periauricular depression secondary to a loss of volume, leading to variable aesthetic deformities. A complete parotidectomy is more likely to be associated with a larger aesthetic deficit secondary to a greater loss of tissue volume. The incidence of gustatory sweating is high after superficial parotidectomy, particularly in the early postoperative period. We hypothesize that if the superficial lobe is preserved, there is less likelihood of gustatory sweating because of the interposition of tissue between the skin and the cut ends of the secretomotor fibers. Approximately 80% of parotid tissue volume is made up of the superficial lobe, and therefore preservation of the superficial lobe should be associated with less postparotidectomy depression. Therefore, we decided to preserve the superficial lobe of the gland for deep-lobe tumors. Nine patients underwent deep-lobe parotidectomy with preservation of the superficial lobe over a 6-year period. Patients were studied prospectively with regard to technical difficulty, complications, and cosmetic outcome. Follow-up ranged from 12 months to 6 years. We did not experience any undue technical difficulty, and there were no cases of facial weakness. One patient developed gustatory sweating, which almost completely resolved over a 2-year period. There were no cases of post parotidectomy depression, and both patients and surgeons were satisfied with the cosmetic appearance. We present our technique and experience.

MeSH terms

  • Adenoma, Pleomorphic / diagnosis
  • Adenoma, Pleomorphic / surgery*
  • Digestive System Surgical Procedures / adverse effects
  • Digestive System Surgical Procedures / methods*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Parotid Gland / surgery*
  • Parotid Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Parotid Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sweating, Gustatory / etiology
  • Treatment Outcome