What Is Radioactive Iodine-Induced Sialadenitis?

Radioactive Iodine-Induced Sialadenitis is swelling of a salivary gland as a result of high radiation doses from cancer treatment, which causes inflammatory salivary gland disease.

Alternative Names

  • Radioiodine sialadenitis
  • Radioiodine-induced salivary inflammation

Causes of Radioactive Iodine-Induced Sialadenitis

High radiation doses used to treat certain cancers, especially thyroid cancer, can damage the salivary glands, causing them to secrete less saliva. In turn, this can lead to dry mouth and swelling.

Symptoms of Radioactive Iodine-Induced Sialadenitis

The primary symptom of radioactive iodine-induced sialadenitis is swelling in the mouth, which is usually accompanied by dry mouth.

Exams and Tests for Radioactive Iodine-Induced Sialadenitis

Your doctor will perform a physical exam and may order the following tests in order to provide an accurate diagnosis:

  • An ultrasound
  • An MRI sialogram to see if there is a blockage
  • An assessment of saliva flow and character after giving lemon juice

Treatment of Radioactive Iodine-Induced Sialadenitis

Radioactive iodine-induced sialadenitis can be managed at home using:

  • Adequate hydration
  • Massages
  • Warm compresses

Your doctor may also give you systemic steroids as an early treatment.

If these treatments don’t reduce your symptoms, sialendoscopy may be used. Penn ENT's Salivary Gland Center is a national leader in this minimally invasive outpatient procedure and one of only two institutions in the Philadelphia region offering this cutting-edge technique. Sialendoscopy can be used to:

  • Insert dilators, wires, balloons and other devices that widen salivary glands
  • Provide irrigation and remove mucus plugs and adhesions
  • Insert stents to open salivary glands
  • Provide steroids through the duct to reduce swelling

Learn more about the treatment Penn ENT's Salivary Gland Center provides for salivary gland disorders

Outlook (Prognosis) for Radioactive Iodine-Induced Sialadenitis

After treatment, many patients with radioactive iodine-induced sialadenitis have a significant decrease in symptoms or no symptoms at all.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Contact your care team if you notice oral pain, swelling or dry mouth after radiation treatment for cancer.

Penn Programs & Services for Radioactive Iodine-Induced Sialadenitis

Salivary Gland Center

Penn Ear, Nose and Throat offers one of the region’s only dedicated salivary gland centers. Our specialists are nationally-recognized experts in diagnosing and treating salivary gland disorders.

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