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Open Access Highly Accessed Review

Diseases of the salivary glands in infants and adolescents

Maik Ellies* and Rainer Laskawi

Author Affiliations

Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, University of Göttingen, Göttingen, Germany

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Head & Face Medicine 2010, 6:1  doi:10.1186/1746-160X-6-1

Published: 15 February 2010

Abstract

Background

Diseases of the salivary glands are rare in infants and children (with the exception of diseases such as parotitis epidemica and cytomegaly) and the therapeutic regimen differs from that in adults. It is therefore all the more important to gain exact and extensive insight into general and special aspects of pathological changes of the salivary glands in these age groups. Etiology and pathogenesis of these entities is still not yet fully known for the age group in question so that general rules for treatment, based on clinical experience, cannot be given, particularly in view of the small number of cases of the different diseases. Swellings of the salivary glands may be caused by acute and chronic inflammatory processes, by autoimmune diseases, by duct translocation due to sialolithiasis, and by tumors of varying dignity. Clinical examination and diagnosis has also to differentiate between salivary gland cysts and inflammation or tumors.

Conclusion

Salivary gland diseases are rare in childhood and adolescence. Their pattern of incidence differs very much from that of adults. Acute and chronic sialadenitis not responding to conservative treatment requires an appropriate surgical approach. The rareness of salivary gland tumors is particularly true for the malignant parotid tumors which are more frequent in juvenile patients, a fact that has to be considered in diagnosis and therapy.