It has been suggested that a conservative trans-oral approach to proximal and hilo-parenchymal submandibular stones (HPSMS) is a valid alternative to the more frequently used sialadenectomy. The aim of this study was to evaluate the surgical, ultrasonographic and patients’ subjective outcomes of results of the trans-oral removal of HPSMS. Between January 2003 and September 2015, sialendoscope-assisted trans-oral surgery was used to remove symptomatic, large (> 7 mm), fixed and palpable HPSMS from 479 patients under general anaesthesia. All patients were followed clinically and ultrasonographically to investigate symptom relief and recurrence of stones, and were telephonically interviewed to assess saliva-related subjective outcomes with a questionnaire. Stones were successfully removed from 472 patients (98.5%); the seven failures (1.5%) concerned pure parenchymal stones. One year after the procedure, 408 patients (85.1%) were symptom free, 59 (12.3%) had recurrent obstructive symptoms and 12 (2.6%) had recurrent infections. Of the 54 patients who developed a recurrent stone (11.2%), 52 underwent a second procedure: 29 interventional sialendoscopies, two sialendoscope-assisted intra-corporeal pneumatic lithotripsy, eight secondary transoral surgery to remove residual stones, six a cycle of extra-corporeal lithotripsy and seven submandibular sialadenectomy. Most patients (75.2%) reported mild surgery-related pain. The symptoms of 454 patients (94.8%) improved after adjunctive treatment and, at the end of follow-up, the affected gland was preserved in 98.5% of patients. A sialendoscope-assisted trans-oral removal of large HPSMS is a safe, effective, conservative surgical procedure, and functional preservation of the main duct and parenchyma of the obstructed gland allows sialendoscopic access through the natural ostium in case of recurrence. Combining a trans-oral approach with other minimally invasive, conservative procedures ensures symptomatic relief and salivary duct system clearance in the majority of patients.
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