Oral Medicine & Pathology

Benign Minor Salivary Gland Tumors : imaging , clinical findings , pathology , treatment , epidemiology


 Benign Minor Salivary Gland Tumors    



  •  A minor salivary gland consists of cellular constituents of the major salivary glands (parotid, submandibular, sublingual) that are located within the mucosa of the upper aero digestive tract.
  • It has been estimated that there are between 500 and 1 000 minor salivary glands located throughout the oral cavity and oropharynx.
  • They may be found within the hard and soft palate, uvula, lips, retromolar trigone, tongue base, floor of mouth, and tonsil.
  • The same malignancies that arise in the major salivary glands occur in the minor salivary glands.
  • Depending on the series, approximately one half of minor salivary gland tumors are benign as compared with approximately 70 to 80% of parotid tumors that are benign.

Clinical Findings

  •   Patients often present with asymptomatic masses that have been present for several months.
  • Pain and ulceration may be present; however, these are not consistent findings.


  •  The benign tumors that constitute minor salivary gland tumors include pleomorphic adenoma, monomorphic adenomas, and Warthin’s tumor.


  •   The exact treatment depends on the pathology.
  • For most benign tumors complete local resection is adequate.

Imaging Findings


  •   The CT findings are not specific.
  • The presence of regressive remodeling of [he surrounding bone for lesions that arise in the hard palate is suggestive of a benign minor salivary gland tumor


  •  In general, the imaging findings are nonspecific.
  • However, oral cavity or oropharyngeal lesions that are low to intermediate signal on T I -weighted and increased signal on T2- weighted sequences is suggestive of pleomorphic adenoma  

Imaging Pearls

  • In general, these are uncommon lesions with diagnosis usually at histology following initial biopsy.
  • The intent of imaging is to provide information that cannot be detected on clinical examination.
  • CT is helpful to evaluate the extent of bone erosion.
  • MR should be performed to determine the presence of submucosal spread and deep invasion.  

 Benign Minor Salivary Gland Tumors (Pleo morphic Adenomal Monomorphic Adenomal Warthin/s Tumor)

Benign Minor Salivary Gland Tumors (Pleo morphic Adenomal Monomorphic Adenomal Warthin/s Tumor)


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