Salivary gland biopsy: a comprehensive review of techniques and related complications

Rheumatology (Oxford). 2010 Nov;49(11):2117-21. doi: 10.1093/rheumatology/keq225. Epub 2010 Jul 25.


Objective: This study proposes a revision of the literature on the current techniques employed in salivary gland biopsy.

Methods: A systematic review of the literature between January 1990 and January 2010 was conducted using MEDLINE, Embase and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials. The search terms were: 'biopsy AND parotid AND Sjögren'; 'biopsy AND sublingual salivary gland AND Sjögren'; 'biopsy AND minor salivary gland AND Sjögren'; 'biopsy AND labial salivary gland AND Sjögren' and 'biopsy AND salivary glands AND connective disorders'.

Results: No study reporting submandibular salivary gland biopsy was found; 3 studies reported sublingual salivary gland biopsy; 1 study reported palate biopsy; 4 studies reported parotid gland biopsy and 21 studies reported minor salivary gland biopsy.

Conclusion: Biopsy of salivary glands must be performed as last investigation and only when the other items are not complete enough to satisfy the diagnosis. The knowledge of complications and sequelae may be useful in order to minimize the risk.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Biopsy / methods
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Humans
  • Salivary Gland Diseases / pathology*
  • Salivary Glands / pathology*
  • Sjogren's Syndrome / pathology*