Home | About us | Editorial board | Ahead of print | Current issue | Archives | Search | Submit article | Instructions | Subscribe | Advertise | Contact us |  Login 
National Journal of Maxillofacial Surgery
Print this page Email this page Small font sizeDefault font sizeIncrease font size
Users Online: 105

Table of Contents
Year : 2019  |  Volume : 10  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 118-122  

Tuberculous parotitis: A series of eight cases and review of literature

1 Department of Pathology, King George's Medical University, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India
2 Department of ENT and Head and Neck Surgery, King George's Medical University, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India
3 Department of Respiratory Medicine, King George's Medical University, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India

Date of Submission03-May-2018
Date of Acceptance25-Aug-2018
Date of Web Publication07-Jun-2019

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Malti Kumari Maurya
Department of Pathology, King George's Medical University, Lucknow - 22003, Uttar Pradesh
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/njms.NJMS_34_18

Rights and Permissions

Although tuberculosis is a common health problem in developing countries such as India, tuberculous parotitis (tubercular involvement of parotid gland) is rarely encountered. Because of very low incidence and nonspecific symptoms, it is often misdiagnosed as parotid neoplasm. Ultrasonographic and computed tomographic findings are also noncontributory for this entity. Hence, to increase awareness about this rare entity, here, we report a series of eight cases of tuberculous parotitis which were diagnosed on fine-needle aspiration cytology (FNAC) and successfully treated with antitubercular drugs. Majority of our cases (five cases) presented as asymptomatic unilateral swelling or acute tender painful swelling (two cases) in the parotid region. FNAC smears showed caseous necrosis, epithelioid granulomas along with variable amount of mixed inflammatory exudates, and few benign ductal or acinar cell clusters. One case had unilateral recurrent swelling in the preauricular region with fistula. Superficial parotidectomy was done and histological examination revealed the diagnosis of tubercular parotitis. Following diagnosis, all patients were kept on antitubercular treatment and responded well to treatment with no evidence of recurrence on 9-month regular follow-up.

Keywords: Parotid, salivary gland, tubercular

How to cite this article:
Maurya MK, Kumar S, Singh HP, Verma A. Tuberculous parotitis: A series of eight cases and review of literature. Natl J Maxillofac Surg 2019;10:118-22

How to cite this URL:
Maurya MK, Kumar S, Singh HP, Verma A. Tuberculous parotitis: A series of eight cases and review of literature. Natl J Maxillofac Surg [serial online] 2019 [cited 2022 Dec 9];10:118-22. Available from: https://www.njms.in/text.asp?2019/10/1/118/259829

   Introduction Top

Tuberculosis is a chronic illness with worldwide distribution. It is more common in developing countries such as India. It is a destructive disease. It mainly involves lungs and is characterized by granulomatous inflammation with or without caseous necrosis. Extrapulmonary forms of the disease account for approximately 20% of overall active tuberculosis and can affect any organ of the body. However, involvement of the salivary glands is a very rare event.[1],[2] Tuberculous parotitis clinically mimics the parotid tumor which is often misdiagnosed and cases undergo unnecessary surgery. C. De Pauli reported the first case of tubercular parotitis in 1893 and since then about 100 cases have been reported in the literature.[3],[4],[5],[6]

For ease of discussion, all the eight patients were kept into the following three groups and their clinicopathological findings are summarized in [Table 1]:
Table 1: Summary of clinical and pathological findings of cases

Click here to view

  • Group 1: Asymptomatic unilateral preauricular swelling: This group consisted of five patients including four males and one female with the age range of 12–65 years, presenting with unilateral swelling in the preauricular region [Figure 1]a. The duration of illness was for 3–6 months. These swellings were gradually progressive, with no pain or fever. Chest X-ray and routine biochemical examination were normal in all except one female patient in which thyroid-stimulating hormone level was raised (10.8 IU/ml) with generalized body edema and reduced appetite. On clinical examination, parotid swellings were firm, mobile, nontender, and the overlying skin was normal. There was no involvement of facial nerve. Size varied from 2.5 to 4 cm in diameter. There was no evidence of active pulmonary tuberculosis in any case. In a 54-year-old female [Figure 2]a, computed tomography (CT) showed enlarged parotid gland having round-to-oval soft-tissue attenuation lesion with hypodense area measuring 2.0 cm × 2.5 cm × 3.0 cm suggestive of necrosis was noted in the deep lobe of the right parotid gland. There was also mild enlargement of right submandibular gland and lymph nodes seen in the right cervical region [Figure 2]b. Purified protein derivative (PPD) skin test was positive in two cases and two cases showed a positive family history of tuberculosis. Mycobacterium tuberculosis polymerase chain reaction (PCR) was available in one patient and was positive. On fine-needle aspiration cytology (FNAC) examination, all cases showed epithelioid granuloma and caseous necrosis in the background of inflammatory infiltrate [Figure 3]a and [Figure 3]b. On the basis of above findings, all patients were diagnosed as tubercular parotitis and were treated with antitubercular multidrug regimen
  • Group 2: Recurrent swelling with fistula: This group consisted of one patient, who was a 30-year-old male presented with recurrent swelling and watery discharge from an opening over the left parotid region in the last 3 months. There was no associated pain or fever. The patient briefed the past history of swelling over the left parotid area for which he consulted a general practitioner and got incision and drainage and at that time, got symptomatic relief for 3–4 months. However, later on, he developed on-and-off watery discharge for which the patient was referred to us. On clinical examination, there was a single 3.5 cm × 3.0 cm swelling in the left parotid region which was firm, mobile, and nontender with chronic discharging sinus over it. Facial nerve function was normal. There was no cervical lymphadenopathy. Routine hematological investigation and chest X-ray were normal. The patient underwent superficial parotidectomy with uneventful postoperative recovery [Figure 4]a. On gross inspection, surgical specimen was covered with skin flap which measured 5.0 cm × 4.0 cm × 2.5 cm [Figure 4]b. Cut surface showed salivary gland parenchyma with small foci of necrosis. Histopathological examination revealed multiple granulomas with central caseation, destroying the gland parenchyma. Periglandular lymphoid follicles also showed similar granulomas and necrosis merging into the surrounding fibrous stroma, with granulation tissue extending up to the skin (formation of fistulous tract). Granuloma was comprised of epithelioid cells, lymphocytes, and Langhans giant cells and rimmed by fibroblasts [Figure 5]a, [Figure 5]b, [Figure 5]c, [Figure 5]d, [Figure 5]e, [Figure 5]f. On the basis of the above histomorphological findings, this case was diagnosed as tubercular parotitis. Antitubercular treatment (four-drug regimen) for 9 months was given and the patient has no recurrence or any complaint on 9-month follow-up
  • Group 3: Acute inflammatory swelling/abscess: Consisted of two cases: a 16-year-old female [Figure 1]b and a 27-year-old male presented with painful preauricular swelling for <1 month. There was no history of fever and other systemic symptoms. Clinical examination showed soft, mobile, tender, and indurated swelling. Routine biochemical and hematological measurements and chest X-ray were normal. On FNAC, pus was aspirated. Microscopy showed multiple epithelioid granuloma and caseous necrosis in the background of acute inflammatory exudates and hence cases were diagnosed as tuberculous abscess. Both patient showed complete resolution of preauricular swelling after anti-tubercular drug therapy.
Figure 1: Tender and soft swelling in the left preauricular region (a). Nontender and firm swelling in the left preauricular region (b)

Click here to view
Figure 2: Diffuse and firm swelling in the right preauricular region (a). Computed tomography scan of the same patient showing soft-tissue attenuation in the deep lobe of the right parotid gland (b)

Click here to view
Figure 3: Epithelioid granuloma in the background of caseous necrosis and inflammatory cells (H and E, ×100) (a). Granuloma in high-power view (H and E × 400) (b)

Click here to view
Figure 4: Excised specimen with fistulous tract (arrow) and surrounding skin (a). Gross specimen: Cut surface of parotid gland showing gray-white gland parenchyma with foci of necrosis (arrow) (b)

Click here to view
Figure 5: Histopathology: Multiple epithelioid granuloma in parotid gland parenchyma (H and E, ×40) (a). (H and E, ×100) (b). (H and E, ×400) (c). Periductal granuloma (H and E, ×200) (d). Periglandular lymphoid tissue involvement by granuloma (H and E, ×200) (e). Periglandular fibrous tissue showing granuloma with Langhans giant cell (H and E, ×400) (f). (granuloma shown by arrow)

Click here to view

   Discussion Top

The incidence of tuberculosis is increasing among the general population of developing countries. In spite of being a common infection, tuberculosis of major salivary glands is rarely seen. Parotid tuberculosis constitutes 2.5%–10% of salivary gland tuberculosis.[6],[7] Lee and Liu studied the largest case series which consisted of 49 patients of tubercular parotitis and described the clinicopathological feature of this rare entity.[8] Salivary glands are believed to resist the growth of tubercular bacilli due to continuous flow of saliva which prevents the lodging and growth of bacilli, while thiocyanate ions and various proteolytic enzymes impart the antibacterial property.[2],[6],[8]

The way Mycobacterium reaches the parotid gland is still not very clear. Involvement of the parotid gland and its lymph nodes may develop in two ways: first, a focus of mycobacterial infection in the oral cavity (infected sputum, tonsil) liberates bacilli that ascend into the salivary gland via its duct or pass to its associated lymph nodes via lymphatic drainage. The second pathway involves hematogenous or lymphatic spread from a distant primary lung focus.[5],[7],[9] In the current study, three parotid swellings (3/8 cases) were associated with lymphadenopathy (in one case, it was too small that was only detected on CT neck). Thus, association with cervical lymphadenopathy in these patients further strengthens the theory of lymphatic spread.

Clinical presentation varies from an acute to chronic sialadenitis. Chronic form mimics tumorous condition, where patient presents as slow-growing asymptomatic painless mass with or without cervical lymphadenopathy. Radiology is also nonspecific. Sometimes, diagnosis can be a histological surprise.[10] In acute form, there is diffuse involvement of gland parenchyma by disease for short duration mimicking acute inflammatory lesion (abscess). In this study, 2/8 cases presented as acute inflammatory lesion with a short history [Figure 1]b. It may also be presented as a periauricular fistula.[8],[9],[10],[11],[12],[13]

The most common involvement is unilateral but occasionally bilateral also.[8] It is found in both males and females equally. Tubercular parotitis presents as two histomorphological types. The localized type shows the involvement of pericapsular or intracapsular lymph nodes by caseating or noncaseating granulomas first and then it gradually spreads to the glandular parenchyma. The other type is rare and shows predominant and diffuse involvement of salivary gland parenchyma initially.[3],[4],[5],[6],[7],[8],[13] In the third case of this study, histopathology showed predominant glandular involvement by multiple well-formed caseating granulomas and necrosis, destroying the glandular architecture and also around the ducts [Figure 5]a, [Figure 5]b, [Figure 5]c, [Figure 5]d. Pericapsular areas were also involved by granulomas and necrosis which were extending to the subcutaneous plane. This patient had a previous history of incision and drainage which thereafter resulted into formation of the fistulous tract. Also in suspected cases of tubercular abscess, incision and drainage should not be done.

The definitive diagnosis is made by FNAC or histological examination after parotidectomy.[3],[10],[11],[12],[13] Sometimes, tuberculous parotitis becomes a diagnostic challenge in the absence of clinical disease in lung and it requires a high degree of clinical suspicion and adds of other supportive investigations. A chest radiograph may be helpful in cases of associated pulmonary tuberculosis. None of our patients have chest radiographic evidence of either active or prior pulmonary tuberculosis. The use of erythrocyte sedimentation rate and tuberculin skin testing (PPD test) can provide valuable information, but requires an initial suspicion. In this study, four cases showed positive PPD test (>12-mm induration). Although the imaging studies are nonspecific, they may provide a clue to the diagnosis. Ultrasonography is sensitive for lesion situated in the superficial lobe of parotid gland, while CT/magnetic resonance imaging is better for deep-lobe involvement.[5],[8],[11] FNAC is now considered as a useful and reliable technique for the diagnosis of tuberculous parotitis.[1],[7],[8],[10] Further, sensitivity is enhanced by utilization of fine-needle aspirate in the detection of Mycobacterium using Ziehl–Neelsen staining, culture, and evaluation by PCR.[9],[11],[13] Handa et al. reported five cases of tubercular parotitis by FNAC, which is also supported by other authors[3],[7] However, it has only value when positive.

Tumor together with the tuberculosis in the parotid gland is an extremely rare possibility and we can miss either of two. FNAC may cause false-positive results especially in case of large and necrotic parotid gland neoplasms. Watanabe et al. in 2001 diagnosed tuberculous parotitis in postoperative histopathological study, where a patient was operated for adenolymphoma.[4] Thus, FNAC should be preferred first in the evaluation of a parotid mass. In addition, it should be also considered that, if there is a doubt in relation to diagnosis, exploratory parotidectomy becomes essential to verify histological diagnosis.[2],[4],[13] Incisional biopsy or drainage should not be used as it may result in the development of cutaneous fistula as happened in our fifth case.

If the diagnosis is made preoperatively, then patient is spared of surgery and can be cured by medications only. Medical treatment consists of combination antitubercular drugs according to suitable regimen 2RHZ/4RH for a period of 6–9 months.[2],[8],[10],[11]

   Conclusion Top

Although tuberculous parotitis is a rare entity, it should be always kept in mind as a differential during evaluation of solitary parotid mass lesion. FNAC and contrast CT imaging technique are reliable tools for early diagnosis and treatment, which can spare patients from complications and surgical intervention.

Declaration of patient consent

The authors certify that they have obtained all appropriate patient consent forms. In the form the patient(s) has/have given his/her/their consent for his/her/their images and other clinical information to be reported in the journal. The patients understand that their names and initials will not be published and due efforts will be made to conceal their identity, but anonymity cannot be guaranteed.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

   References Top

Aygenc E, Albayrak L, Ensari S: Tuberculous parotitis. Inf Dis Clin Prac 2002;11:555-7.  Back to cited text no. 1
Janmeja AK, Das SK, Kochhar S, Handa U. Tuberculosis of the parotid gland. Indian J Chest Dis Allied Sci 2003;45:67-9.  Back to cited text no. 2
Suleiman AM. Tuberculous parotitis: Report of 3 cases. Br J Oral Maxillofac Surg 2001;39:320-3.  Back to cited text no. 3
Watanabe M, Nakayama T, Koduka Y, Katoh H, Hirokawa Y, Inoue R, et al. Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection within Warthin's tumor: Report of two cases. Pathol Int 2001;51:797-801.  Back to cited text no. 4
Iserì M, Aydìner O, Celìk L, Peker O. Tuberculosis of the parotid gland. J Laryngol Otol 2005;119:311-3.  Back to cited text no. 5
Hamdan AL, Hadi U, Shabb N. Tuberculous parotitis: A forgotten entity. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg 2002;126:581-2.  Back to cited text no. 6
Handa U, Kumar S, Punia RS, Mohan H, Abrol R, Saini V, et al. Tuberculous parotitis: A series of five cases diagnosed on fine needle aspiration cytology. J Laryngol Otol 2001;115:235-7.  Back to cited text no. 7
Lee IK, Liu JW. Tuberculous parotitis: Case report and literature review. Ann Otol Rhinol Laryngol 2005;114:547-51.  Back to cited text no. 8
Sethi A, Sareen D, Sabherwal A, Malhotra V. Primary parotid tuberculosis: Varied clinical presentations. Oral Dis 2006;12:213-5.  Back to cited text no. 9
Errami N, Benjelloun A, Tahtah N, Hemmaoui B, Jahidi A, Nakkabi I, et al. Tuberculosis of the parotid gland: Histology surprise. Pan Afr Med J 2015;20:343.  Back to cited text no. 10
Gayathri B, Kalyani R, Manjula K. Primary tuberculous parotitis. J Cytol 2011;28:144-5.  Back to cited text no. 11
[PUBMED]  [Full text]  
Patil R, Kannan N, Kumar MR, Sreedevi BS, Sarath PV, Prasanthi. Tuberculous parotid lymphadenitis: A rare case report. J Indian Acad Oral Med Radio 2011;23:392-5.  Back to cited text no. 12
Patankar SS, Chandorkar SS, Garg A. Parotid gland tuberculosis: A case report. Indian J Surg 2012;74:179-80.  Back to cited text no. 13


  [Figure 1], [Figure 2], [Figure 3], [Figure 4], [Figure 5]

  [Table 1]

This article has been cited by
1 Management of Benign Salivary Gland Conditions
Kody Bolk, Kurt Mueller, Neelam Phalke, Rohan R. Walvekar
Surgical Clinics of North America. 2022;
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
2 The long wait for diagnosis: A rare cause of parotid abscess
SLakshmi Nair, Monika Khandelwal, AryaSree Nair, Binshy Latheef, Unnikrishnan Menon
Amrita Journal of Medicine. 2021; 17(3): 103
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
3 Systemic tuberculosis presenting as parotid abscess: Case report
Brandon S. Gold,Eliezer Kinberg,David K. Lerner,Fred Y. Lin
Otolaryngology Case Reports. 2020; 17: 100240
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
4 An uncommon case of primary parotid tuberculosis in a paediatric patient
E. Rezende-Silva,L.A.M. Santana,Y.M.F. Costa,L.C.G. Ayres,W.M. Takeshita,C.L. Trento
Oral Surgery. 2020;
[Pubmed] | [DOI]


    Similar in PUBMED
   Search Pubmed for
   Search in Google Scholar for
 Related articles
    Access Statistics
    Email Alert *
    Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)  

  In this article
    Article Figures
    Article Tables

 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded302    
    Comments [Add]    
    Cited by others 4    

Recommend this journal