Alternative names
Ptyalography; Sialography

A sialogram is an X-ray of the salivary ducts and the related glandular structures. The salivary glands are 3 sets of glands on each side of the face that secrete 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 by an X-ray technician. You may be given a sedative 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 ensure that no stones are present to stop the contrast material from entering the ducts. A catheter (a small flexible tube) will be inserted through your mouth and into the duct of the salivary gland. A contrast medium in then injected into the duct so that the duct will show up on the X-ray. X-rays will be taken from a number of positions.

You may be given lemon juice by mouth to help stimulate the production of saliva. Pictures are repeated to examine the drainage of the saliva into the mouth.

How to prepare for the test
Inform the health care provider if you:

  • are pregnant  
  • are allergic to X-ray contrast material or any iodine substance  
  • have any drug allergies

You must sign a consent form. You will need to rinse your mouth with an antiseptic (germ-killing) solution before the procedure.

Infants and children:
The physical and psychological preparation you can provide for this or any test or procedure depends on your child’s age, interests, previous experiences, and level of trust. For specific information regarding how you can prepare your child, see the following topics as they correspond to your child’s age:

How the test will feel
There is 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 performed when a disorder of the salivary ducts and/or glands is suspected.

What abnormal results mean

Abnormal findings include calculi (salivary duct stones), strictures (a narrowing of the duct), salivary duct tumors, or indications of salivary gland infections or inflammation.

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 and children are more sensitive to the risks of X-rays.

Johns Hopkins patient information

Last revised: December 4, 2012
by Janet G. Derge, M.D.

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