A sialogram is an x-ray of the salivary ducts and glands.
The salivary glands are located on each side of the face. They release saliva into the mouth.
How the test is performed
The test is performed in a hospital radiology department or in the health care provider's office. It is done by an x-ray technician. 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) in then injected into the duct. This allows the duct will show up on the x-ray. X-rays will be taken from many positions.
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:
- Allergic to x-ray contrast material or any iodine substance
- Allergic to any drugs
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 doctor thinks you might have a disorder of the salivary ducts or glands.
What abnormal results mean
Abnormal results may suggest:
- Narrowing of the salivary ducts
- Salivary gland infection or inflammation
- Salivary duct stones
- Salivary duct tumor
What the risks are
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 benefits. Pregnant women should not under go this test. Alternatives include tests like a MRI kilogram that do not involve x-rays. .
Lacey J. Diagnostic Imaging and Fine Needle-Aspiration of the Salivary Glands. In: Flint PW, Haughey BH, Lund LJ, et al, eds. Cummings Otolaryngology: Head & Neck Surgery. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2010:chap 85.
Last reviewed 3/22/2013 by Ashutosh Kacker, MD, BS, Associate Professor of Otolaryngology, Weill Cornell Medical College, and Associate Attending Otolaryngologist, New York-Presbyterian Hospital, New York, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.
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