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Salivary Gland Scan

Risks

There is a slight chance of damage to cells or tissue from radiation, including the low levels of radiation used for this test. But the chance of damage from the X-rays is usually very low compared with the benefits of the test.

Allergic reactions to the tracer are very rare.

In some cases, soreness or swelling may develop at the IV site. Apply a moist, warm compress to your arm to relieve these symptoms.

Results

A salivary gland scan uses a special camera and a tracer (radioactive chemical) to take pictures of the salivary glands camera.gif.

The results of a salivary gland scan are usually available within 2 days.

Salivary gland scan
Normal:

The tracer moves evenly through the salivary glands and is released normally into the mouth.

The salivary ducts leading from the salivary glands are not blocked. Saliva is released in response to sucking on a lemon.

Abnormal:

The tracer does not move evenly through the salivary glands. A pocket of fluid (cyst), a pocket of infection (abscess), or a tumor or other growth may be present.

The tracer may not flow normally from the salivary glands into the mouth. This may be caused by a tumor pressing on the duct, a stone in the duct, or inflammation of the duct.

The flow of tracer through the salivary glands is decreased. This may point to a condition, such as Sjögren's syndrome.

The amount of tracer in the salivary glands in front of the ear is greatly increased. This may indicate inflammation or infection of the parotid glands (parotitis).

What Affects the Test

Reasons you may not be able to have the test or why the results may not be helpful include:

  • Pregnancy. A salivary gland scan is not usually done during pregnancy, because the radiation could harm the developing baby (fetus).
  • The inability to stay still during the test.

What To Think About

  • In North America, a salivary gland scan is rarely done. Most often, a CT scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is done to look at the salivary glands. An ultrasound scan also may be done to look at the salivary glands. But a salivary scan is the only test that can see how well the salivary glands are working.
  • Although a salivary gland scan may be done to evaluate dry mouth caused by Sjögren's syndrome, it usually is not used to diagnose this disease. But a salivary gland scan may be used to diagnose Sjögren's syndrome in a person who has rheumatoid arthritis.

Other Works Consulted

  • Fischbach FT, Dunning MB III, eds. (2009). Manual of Laboratory and Diagnostic Tests, 8th ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerAdam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerHoward Schaff, MD - Diagnostic Radiology
Last RevisedJuly 28, 2011
1|2

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: July 28, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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Only 18.5% of Americans never floss. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Floss removes food trapped between the teeth and removes the film of bacteria that forms there before it turns to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Try flossing just one tooth to get started.

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for 3 more days!

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily, but you're well on your way to making a positive impact on your teeth and gums. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for all 7 days!

Only 50.5% of Americans floss daily, and good for you that you are one of them! Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Congratulations on your good oral health habit!

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American Dental Association, Healthy People 2010

This tool is intended only for adults 18 and older.

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