The parotid gland is located in a very crucial location on the side of the face, just in front of and below the ear. In fact, the word "parotid" is derived from a term that literally means "around the ear."
The parotid gland and the facial nerve, also known as the seventh cranial nerve, grow at the same time, early on in the development of the fetus. As the facial nerve exits the skull and travels underneath the ear and towards the muscles of facial expression, the parotid gland continues to grow and ultimately wraps around the nerve.
Once inside the parotid, the facial nerve travels deeper into the gland, with three-quarters of the gland being superficial to it. After a short distance inside the parotid, it divides into two major branches, called the superior and inferior divisions. Those two divisions then branch off even further, extending into and supplying the muscles of facial expression. Additionally, the nerve also carries branches that progress further into the parotid and instruct the gland as to when it should produce and secrete saliva.
Facial Nerve Complications During Parotid Surgery
Because these two important structures are closely related, Dr. Larian will carefully consider them both during parotid surgery. While most patients will not suffer facial nerve complications during a procedure at the CENTER, there are a few specific instances in which the facial nerve has a higher than normal risk of being compromised.
If the facial nerve is functioning properly prior to surgery, the patient will most likely avoid any complications. However, if facial paralysis is already present, or in the event that the facial nerve needs to be cut for the purposes of removing the cancer during a parotidectomy, the risk increases. In these cases, Dr. Larian and Dr. Azizzadeh will perform reconstructive facial reanimation surgery at the same time to optimize movement of the facial musculature and provide the best results possible.
Having earned international acclaim for their positive outcomes in facial nerve repair and preservation, few surgeons are more qualified than Dr. Larian and Dr. Azizzadeh to save the facial nerve during parotid surgery, avoid complications and preserve facial function.
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