Salivary Gland Ablation :: Nationwide Children's Hospital

Salivary Gland Ablation

Prior to advancements at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, there were no successful interventional radiological (minimally invasive) therapies for ranulas. Ranula is a condition when saliva cannot get into the mouth and builds up into large bubbles (cysts) either in the floor of the mouth or in the neck.

The need for salivary gland ablation treatment was recognized, so our interventional radiologists developed a new procedure. Patients with both simple ranulas and plunging (dividing) ranulas have been successfully treated without surgery for 10 years at Nationwide Children's Hospital. We have treated kids and adults in ages ranging from 5 to 54 years.

If you, or your child, have been told you need a salivary gland ablation and want to pursue minimally invasive treatment, call our Interventional Coordinator at (614) 722-2375 to set up a consultation with an Interventional Radiologist. You may also request an appointment using our online form.

Transition of care

Dr. Shiels dedicated his life to advancing the field of radiology in order to provide the best care to children in our community, across the country and around the world. As we remember and celebrate his work, we will remain ever-grateful for his passionate mentorship of our radiology team and staff – some of whom have worked side by side with Dr. Shiels for more than a decade. Everything Dr. Shiels learned over his career, he taught to and instilled in his staff including his revolutionary advancements in interventional radiology and ultrasound; treating lymphatic malformations; bone tumor ablation, aneurysmal bone cyst and salivary gland ablation.  His passion inspires the entire team to continue delivering the best possible care to children everywhere and his legacy will live in the advancements we continue to make here at Nationwide Children’s.

What is a salivary gland?

Salivary glands are normal structures that produce fluid (saliva) in the mouth.

Are there different types of salivary glands?

There are two main types of salivary glands:

  • major salivary glands (larger)
  • minor salivary glands (smaller)

The majority of saliva is produced from 3 pairs of major salivary glands (3 on the right and 3 on the left), the pairs known as the submandibular glands (under the jaw bone, the mandible), sublingual glands (under the tongue) and the parotid glands (in the back of the cheek).

What is a salivary gland ablation?

Salivary gland ablation is a procedure performed by an interventional radiologist during which drugs are injected into the major salivary glands (submandibular, sublingual, and parotid glands), causing the salivary gland tissue to shrivel up and turn to scar tissue.

What would cause someone to need salivary gland ablation?

Patients who have "too much saliva," are unable to swallow their saliva, or choke on their saliva, may benefit from salivary gland ablation (killing salivary gland tissue within the body). The most common reasons for patients who have difficulty managing their saliva production are brain abnormalities such as cerebral palsy, brain injury, autism, congenital brain malformations, and strokes. Other patients have a condition known as a "ranula" when saliva cannot get into the mouth and builds up into large bubbles (cysts), either in the floor of the mouth or in the neck.

Reese's Patient Story

Featured Physician

James Murakami, MD
James Murakami,

Personally trained by Dr. Shiels, James Murakami, MD, MS, will be carrying on the care of Dr. Shiels' patients. A faculty member at Nationwide Children's for more than 15 years, Dr. Murakami has interventional radiology interests focusing on sclerotherapy of vascular malformations and benign cysts of the head and neck, orbits, and bones.

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Nationwide Children's Hospital
700 Children's Drive Columbus, Ohio 43205 614.722.2000