Sialadenosis: A presenting sign in bulimia

Hedley Coleman, Mario Altini, Simon Nayler, Alan Richards

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations


Background: Sialadenosis refers to noninflammatory, often recurrent, enlargement of the salivary glands, most frequently the parotids, which is almost always associated with an underlying systemic disorder. These include diabetes, alcoholism, malnutrition, anorexia nervosa, and bulimia. It is thought that the various causes of sialadenosis all result in a common pathogenetic effect in that they produce a peripheral autonomic neuropathy which is responsible for disordered metabolism and secretion, resulting in acinar enlargement. Methods: This paper reports a case of sialadenosis as a presenting sign in bulimia and studies the histologic and electron microscopic features of this disease. Results: Light microscopy showed acini which appeared to be larger than normal and which were composed of plump pyramidal cells containing prominent zymogen granules. There was less interstitial fat, and the ducts were widely dispersed. Electron microscopy showed the acinar cells to be packed with membrane-limited, dark secretory granules some of which showed moulding of their outlines. Cellular organelles and nuclei were inconspicuous. Conclusions: Management of sialadenosis depends upon identification of the underlying cause, which must then be corrected. In bulimia, the swellings may be refractory to standard treatment modalities, and parotidectomy may be considered as a last resort to improve the unacceptable aesthetics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)758-762
Number of pages5
JournalHead and Neck
Issue number8
StatePublished - Dec 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Bulimia
  • Parotid enlargement
  • Sialadenosis
  • Sialosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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