Feature Article

A guide to salivary gland disorders

Ron Bova



The salivary glands may be affected by a wide range of neoplastic and inflammatory disorders. This article reviews the common salivary gland disorders encountered in general practice.

Key Points

  • Salivary gland disorders represent a heterogeneous group of conditions ranging from inflammatory disorders to a diverse group of benign and malignant neoplasms.
  • Acute inflammation of the salivary glands is usually of viral or bacterial origin; mumps is the most common causative viral illness.
  • Chronic inflammation and fibrosis most often affect the parotid gland.
  • Most salivary stones (80%) occur in the submandibular gland; 20% occur in the parotid gland.
  • Salivary gland neoplasms are relatively uncommon, comprising only about 2% of all head and neck neoplasms. The histopathology of these tumours is incredibly diverse, with most (80%) occurring in the parotid gland.