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The information contained on this page is provided as general health information and is not intended to substitute as medical advice and direction from your physician or health care provider. Please direct any questions related to your health care provider. In an emergency, call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency center.


Sialogram

Definition

A sialogram is an x-ray of the salivary ducts and glands.

The salivary glands are located on each side of the head, in the cheeks and under the jaw. They release saliva into the mouth.

Alternative Names

Ptyalography; Sialography

How the Test is Performed

The test is performed in a hospital radiology department or a radiology facility. The test is done by an x-ray technician. A radiologist interprets the results. You may be given a medicine to make you calm before the procedure.

You will be asked to lie on your back on the x-ray table. An x-ray is taken before the contrast material is injected to check for blockages that might prevent the contrast material from entering the ducts.

A catheter (a small flexible tube) is inserted through your mouth and into the duct of the salivary gland. A special dye (contrast medium) is then injected into the duct. This allows the duct to show up on the x-ray. X-rays will be taken from several positions. The sialogram may be performed along with a CT scan.

You may be given lemon juice to help you produce saliva. The x-rays are then repeated to examine the drainage of the saliva into the mouth.

How to Prepare for the Test

Tell the health care provider if you are:

You must sign a consent form. You will need to rinse your mouth with germ-killing (antiseptic) solution before the procedure.

How the Test will Feel

You may feel some discomfort or pressure when the contrast material is injected into the ducts. The contrast material may taste unpleasant.

Why the Test is Performed

A sialogram may be done when your provider thinks you might have a disorder of the salivary ducts or glands.

What Abnormal Results Mean

Abnormal results may suggest:

Risks

There is low radiation exposure. X-rays are monitored and regulated to provide the minimum amount of radiation exposure needed to produce the image. Most experts feel that the risk is low compared with the potential benefits. Pregnant women should not undergo this test. Alternatives include tests like an MRI scan that do not involve x-rays.

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Sialography

References

Miloro M, Kolokythas A. Diagnosis and management of salivary gland disorders. In: Hupp JR, Ellis E, Tucker MR, eds. Contemporary Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. 6th ed. St Louis, MO: Elsevier Mosby; 2014:chap 21.

Miller-Thomas M. Diagnostic imaging and fine-needle aspiration of the salivary glands. In: Flint PW, Haughey BH, Lund V, et al, eds. Cummings Otolaryngology: Head & Neck Surgery. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 84.