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Last reviewed dd mmm yyyy. Last edited dd mmm yyyy

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Investigative options for suspected submandibular calculi include:

  • plain X-rays:
    • occlusal and lateral-oblique views
    • demonstrate most calculi
    • 20% of calculi are radiolucent and hence undetectable

  • sialiography - contrast radiography of the duct system:
    • distinguishes calcification not related to the gland and its duct
    • sialography allows examination of the architecture of the salivary gland and duct

Other investigations:

  • ultrasonography, computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging are particularly useful in evaluating masses in the salivary glands (1)
    • ultrasonography
      • can be used to differentiate between solid versus cystic lesions of the gland
      • can be used to differentiate intrinsic from extrinsic disease
      • helpful in identification of abscess formation
    • computed tomography scanning
      • useful in differentiating intrinsic versus extrinsic glandular disease
      • also can be used in defining abscess formation versus phlegmon
      • limited usefulness in evaluation of ductal system unless combined with simultaneous sialography
    • magnetic resonance imaging
      • does not allow evaluation of the ductal system, and it is not helpful in defining calcifications.
      • excellent tool for soft tissue definition (invaluable in instances of suspected neoplasia)


  1. Can Assoc Radiol J. 1993 Oct;44(5):342-9

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