Treatment for Parotid Duct Obstruction

Side view of head and neck showing parotid gland.

Parotid duct obstruction is when part of your parotid duct becomes blocked. The parotid ducts are 2 small tubes that lead from the parotid glands which make saliva. The duct sends the saliva into your mouth. When it’s blocked, saliva can’t flow normally. Not drinking enough fluids (dehydration), certain medicines (anticholinergics), and injuries may cause a blockage.

Types of treatment

You may start with treatments such as:

  • Drinking more water

  • Putting moist heat on the area

  • Massaging the gland and duct

  • Sucking on tart or sour candies to cause saliva to flow

  • Using nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS)

  • Stopping use of any medicines that lower the amount of saliva you make, if possible

Many symptoms go away quickly with these types of treatments. If your symptoms don’t get better, you may need treatments such as:

  • Lithotripsy. This uses shock waves to break up the stone. Laser lithotripsy, offered in some parts of the U.S., is an alternative treatment to extracorporeal lithotripsy. Extracorporeal lithotripsy is not approved by the FDA to treat salivary stones.

  • Wire basket retrieval. This removes the stone through the duct.

  • Sialoendoscopy. This also removes the stone through the duct. This procedure is used more often if a person has stones that keep coming back, or if other procedures don't work.

  • Open surgery. This may include removing the parotid duct, if other methods don’t work.

Your parotid gland should work as normal after the blockage is removed.

Possible complications of parotid duct obstruction

Sometimes obstruction of the duct also leads to infection of the gland and duct. This is more common in older adults. If you have an infection, you may have a fever and pain that gets worse. You may need treatment with antibiotics.

Most of the time, this kind of infection soon goes away with antibiotics. In other cases a more severe infection may happen. You may have an infection of the deep layers of the skin. This can lead to a pus-filled infection (abscess) in your gland or neck. If your symptoms don’t get better, you may need to see an ear, nose, and throat doctor (ENT or otolaryngologist).

When to call your healthcare provider

Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of these:

  • Fever of 100.4°F (38.0°C) or higher, or as directed by your provider

  • Pain that gets worse

  • Pain in new areas of your head or neck

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