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Ear, Nose, and Throat Disorders

Would surgery cure the problem?

01/19/2010

Question:

hi, i have a question. I suffer from bursts of excess choking saliva. I have a question. My doctor is thinking about letting me have surgery. If someone had surgery to the saliva glands for overactive salivary glands (relocation of the salivary glands) and the person was suffering from not so much overactive salivary glands but more occasional bursts of choking saliva would surgery cure the problem??? the reason i ask is that there are 3 types of saliva glands and sugery would only be to one type of salivary gland. Wouldn`t the other 2 types of salivary gland still produce bursts of choking saliva even if one type was operated on?? since doctors would never be able to be sure which saliva gland type out of the 3 types it was in the first place creating the bursts of saliva. So would surgery fix the problem..or not? would sugery cure the bursts of excess saliva?? sorry if this is a strange question but PLEASE could you tell me.

Answer:

The surgery you describe is usually offered to address problems with drooling.  Both submandibular salivary glands (located in the upper neck below the jawline on the left and right side) are removed, and the ducts to the parotid glands (located in the left and right cheek) are ligated or plugged.  Certainly there are other sources of saliva, but this procedure cuts down on the amount, which can be helpful in some cases.   It is usually recommended for people that have neuromuscular disorders and therefore are unable to handle the normal flow of saliva, hence leading to drooling. 

If you ordinarily handle your saliva without difficulty, then this surgery is probably not appropriate.  I recommend searching for other causes of choking.  If you have not already done so, I suggest another opinion with an ENT physician.

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Response by:

Allen M Seiden, MD Allen M Seiden, MD
Professor of Otolaryngology, Director of Division of Rhinology and Sinus Disorders, Director of University Taste and Smell Center, Director of University Sinus and Allergy
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati