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Salivary glands

Developmental disorders


Reviewers: Fatima Aly, M.D., National Cancer Institute (see Reviewers page)
Revised: 7 October 2011, last major update August 2011
Copyright: (c) 2003-2011, PathologyOutlines.com, Inc.


● Also called ectopia
● Normal salivary gland tissue at a site where normally not present
● Usually in head and neck
● Due to abnormal persistence and development of vestigial structures, misplacement of salivary gland rests along embryologic pathways of migration during development, or by salivary differentiation from remnants of primitive embryologic structures
● Intranodal (periparotid most common) or extranodal
● May undergo same pathologic processes as usual salivary gland tissue
● Most common neoplasm is Warthin’s tumor


● More common than extranodal
● In infants, most nodes within/near parotid gland contain salivary gland tissue, usually in medullary portion of node
● Frequent but less common in adults
● Usually composed of intercalated and intralobular ducts, but also serous type acini and immature ducts


● May be high or low in head and neck
High: mandible, mastoid bone, external and middle ear, tonsil, mylohyoid muscle, palatine tonsil, gingiva, pituitary gland, cerebellopontine angle; due to abnormalities in migration of embryonic tissue
Low: related to bronchial pouches in lower neck, thyroid gland or parathyroid gland; most commonly at medial border of right sternocleidomastoid muscle near sternoclavicular joint

Case reports

● 53 year old woman with cerebellopontine angle solitary fibrous tumor with ectopic salivary gland tissue (Am J Surg Pathol 2004;28:139)

Additional references

Am J Surg Pathol 2000;24:837

End of Salivary Glands > Developmental disorders > Heterotopia

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