Objective We sought to determine whether an advantage is obtained in the routine use of computed tomography (CT) scans in preoperative assessments of parotid tumors.
Methods A prospective study of 32 consecutive cases of patients who underwent evaluation for parotidectomies was performed. Twenty-nine received preoperative CT scans. The scans were systematically reviewed to see if they correlated with the clinical findings. Specifically, we compared clinical and CT assessments of tumor size, location, density, and malignancy. Further comparisons were performed based on postoperative tissue pathology.
Results In our series of patients, routine preoperative CT scans resulted in the discovery of details not revealed on clinical examination: some masses were found to be extra-parotid rather than primary parotid tumors, some tumors deemed to be deep were superficial, tumor density was more clearly identified, and certain pathology correlates were clarified. Most importantly, there were instances of detection of additional tumors in the same lobe, and in one instance in the opposite lobe, that were not otherwise noticed.
Conclusions To reduce errors of omission in the treatment of suspected parotid tumors, it would seem appropriate to consider the inclusion of CT scans for the routine preoperative evaluation of all parotid masses.