Beware: Sialadenitis as a Rare Post Neurosurgical Complication: A Single-Institution Clinical Case Series

Karan J. Yagnik, Ryan M. Naylor, Matthew L. Carlson, Tasha L. Welch, Jamie J. Van Gompel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Acute postoperative sialadenitis is a potentially life-threatening complication of cranial neurosurgery characterized by swelling of the face and neck due to obstruction of salivary ducts by either mechanical obstruction or, potentially, pharmacologic stasis or gland obstruction. Given the paucity of literature surrounding this rare phenomenon, we sought to report our experience with acute sialadenitis after cranial neurosurgery. Methods: Retrospective review of patients with acute sialadenitis after neurosurgical craniotomy or craniectomy from a single institution from January 1, 2011, through December 31, 2021. Results: Seven patients (median age: 27 years; 6 female) identified meeting our inclusion criteria out of 10,014 patients who underwent craniotomy and/or craniectomy procedures during last 11 years (∼0.006%), 5 of these cases were considered skull base procedures. Five (71%) patients required emergent airway management either via intubation or tracheostomy and 5 (71%) were treated with steroids. Additional supportive care included sialagogues, warm compress, massage, analgesics, and intravenous hydration for all 7 patients. Three patients (43%) developed concomitant transient focal neurologic deficits attributable to the sialadenitis. No mortalities occurred as a result of this complication. Conclusions: Acute post-neurosurgical sialadenitis spans a range of severity, with some patients requiring emergent airway management and prolonged ventilator support whereas other patients only require conservative supportive care. Early recognition of acute sialadenitis after cranial neurosurgery can prevent fatal outcomes and provide complete recovery from this condition. Therefore, all neurosurgeons, anesthesiologists, and intensivists should be aware of this rare, but potentially life-threatening, complication.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e218-e224
JournalWorld neurosurgery
StatePublished - Jun 2022


  • Craniectomy
  • Craniotomy
  • Postoperative complication
  • Sialadenitis
  • Skull base neurosurgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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