The desirable extent of surgical intervention for benign parotid tumors remains a matter of controversy. Superficial or total parotidectomy as a standard procedure is often said to be the gold standard; however, with it the risk of intraoperative damage to the facial nerve cannot be ignored. For some time now, extracapsular dissection without exposure of the main trunk of the facial nerve has been favored as an alternative for the treatment of discrete parotid tumors. Data on the incidence of facial nerve lesions and other acute postoperative complications of extracapsular dissection have been lacking until now.
We performed a retrospective analysis of the data from patients in whom extracapsular dissection of a benign parotid tumor had been performed under facial nerve monitoring and as a primary intervention in our department between 2000 and 2008.
A total of 934 patients were operated on for a newly diagnosed benign tumor of the parotid gland. Three hundred seventy-seven patients (40%) underwent extracapsular dissection as a primary intervention. The most common postoperative complication was hypoesthesia of the cheek or the earlobe, as reported by 38 patients (10%). Eighteen patients (5%) developed a seroma and 13 patients (3%) a hematoma. A salivary fistula formed in eight patients (2%). Secondary bleeding occurred in three patients (0.8%). In 346 patients (92%) facial nerve function was normal (House-Brackmann grade I) in the immediate postoperative period, whereas 23 patients (6%) showed temporary facial nerve paresis (House-Brackmann grade II or III) and eight patients (2%) developed permanent facial nerve paresis (seven patients House-Brackmann grade II, one patient House-Brackmann grade III).
Extracapsular dissection of benign parotid tumors is associated with a low rate of postoperative complications, a fact that is confirmed by the available literature. We therefore recommend that use of this technique always be considered as a means of treating benign parotid tumors as conservatively, that is, as uninvasively, as possible. Laryngoscope, 2010