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Ear / Nose / Throat, Head and neck, Ultrasound, CT, MR, Education, Education and training, Pathology
G. Price, S. R. Rice, S. Patel, S. Morley, T. Beale; London/UK
The major salivary glands can be affected by a wide range of pathology,
however as these can be relatively uncommon the general radiologist may be unfamiliar with the imaging appearances.
It is essential to be able to differentiate benign disease from malignancy.
Ultrasound provides an easily accessible and non-invasive method of assessment of the major salivary glands.
It is readily available and widely accepted as the first choice of imaging modality in Europe and Asia,
whereas in the US the firstline is more often MR or CT.
1 As mainly superficial structures the salivary glands are ideally positioned to access with ultrasound,
with the additional benefit of allowing for tissue diagnosis when necessary.
Plain film can be useful to assess for radiopaque calculi in up to 80% of cases,
and contrast sialography may demonstrate filling defects and ductal dilatation but is contraindicated in acute sialoadentitis.
MR and CT are useful to provide further information regarding a mass,
for example if it is large or within the deep lobe of the parotid where ultrasound views can sometimes be obscured.