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Healthy Life: Removing Salivary Stones

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BACKGROUND: Salivary duct stones are a type of salivary gland disorder. The stones are crystallized minerals in the ducts that drain the salivary glands. The painful stones are caused when chemicals in the saliva crystallize into a stone that can block the salivary ducts. When saliva is unable to exit a blocked duct, it backs up into the gland and causes pain and swelling of the gland. Salivary stones most often affect the back of the mouth on both sides of the jaw, but they can also affect glands on the sides of the face.
(SOURCE: MedlinePlus)

SYMPTOMS: Salivary stones can create extreme pain in the mouth. The symptoms can range from difficulty opening the mouth or swallowing to pain in the face and mouth to dry mouth. Some people will also experience facial or neck swelling. While the stones can cause a large amount of discomfort, they are not dangerous and can be removed with minimal discomfort.
(SOURCE: MedlinePlus)
TREATMENT: If a person experiences repeated stones or infections, the affected salivary gland may have to be surgically removed. Physicians and dentists can use a number of techniques to try and remove the stone. The dentist may be able to push the stone out, or the stone may be surgically cut out. Oftentimes, the stone can be flushed out just by increasing the flow of saliva. Doctors can stimulate the flow of saliva by giving the patient sour candy or citrus and combining it with fluids and a massage.
ABOUT THE DOCTOR: In November 2010, Dr. Rohan Walvekar, from LSU Health Sciences Center, reported the first use of a surgical robot guided by a miniature salivary endoscope to remove a salivary stone. Dr. Walvekar was able to remove a 20 mm salivary stone and repair the salivary duct. This new technique not only saves the salivary gland, but it also reduces blood loss, scarring, and hospital stay time.
Salivary endoscopes allow surgeons to remove the stone while preserving the gland. The endoscopes improve surgical view, exposure, and magnification of the surgical field using a two-dimensional view. The robotic units produce high-definition, three-dimensional images.
(SOURCE: LSU Health Sciences Center)

Leslie Capo, Media Relations
LSU Health Sciences Center
(504) 568-4806

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