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Int J Surg. 2009 Dec;7(6):503-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ijsu.2009.09.006. Epub 2009 Sep 24.

Surgical approaches to the submandibular gland: a review of literature.

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Department of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery, LSU Health Science Center, New Orleans, LA 70112, USA.



Surgical excision of the submandibular gland (SMG) is commonly indicated in patients with neoplasms, and non-neoplastic conditions such as chronic sialadenitis, sialolithiasis, ranula and drooling. Traditional SMG surgery involves a direct transcervical approach. In the recent past, alternative approaches to SMG excision have been described in effort to offer minimally invasive options or better cosmetic results. The purpose of this article is to describe the surgical approaches to the SMG and present relevant surgical anatomy via cadaveric dissection and a systematic review of literature to compare and contrast each technique.


Cadaveric dissection with fresh human cadaver heads followed by a review of the literature.


Cadaver heads were dissected via both the transcervical and transoral approaches to the submandibular gland with the use of endoscopic assistance when indicated. Key landmarks and anatomic relationships were recorded via photo documentation. A review of the literature was conducted using a Medline search for approaches to SMG excision, including indications, results and complications.


While the traditional SMG excision remains a direct transcervical approach, many other methods of excision are described that include open, endoscopic, and robot assisted resections. The approaches vary from being transcervical, submental, transoral or retroauricular.


Alternative approaches to the SMG are feasible but should be tailored to the individual patient based on factors such as pathology, patient preferences, availability of technology, and the experience and skill of the surgeon.

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