Original Article|Articles in Press

Proposal for a novel classification of benign parotid tumors based on localization

Published:February 06, 2023DOI:



      Postoperative facial nerve paralysis is the most problematic complication after surgical treatment of parotid tumors. Localization of tumors is highly relevant for the surgical approach, but existing classification systems do not focus on the association between localization and surgical technique. Therefore, we created a new localization-based classification system for benign parotid tumors and investigated the characteristics of tumors in each localization and the frequency of postoperative facial nerve paralysis by retrospectively applying the classification to previous cases.


      First, we defined 6 portions of the parotid gland (upper, U; lower, L; posterior, P; anterior, A; superficial, S; deep, D) by dividing the transverse plane into an upper and lower portion at the mandibular marginal branch, the longitudinal plane into a posterior and anterior portion at the midline of the parotid anteroposterior diameter, and the sagittal plane into a superficial and deep portion along the course of the facial nerve. Then, we defined 8 locations by combining the 6 portions in all possible ways (i.e., U-P-S, U-P-D, U-A-S, U-A-D, L-P-S, L-P-D, L-A-S, L-A-D). We used this classification to define the tumor localization in 948 patients who had undergone partial superficial parotidectomy for benign parotid tumors and then investigated the incidence, histopathological type, signs/symptoms, diagnosis, surgery, and complications in each area.


      Pleomorphic adenomas comprised approximately 70% of tumors in the upper portion but only approximately 35% in the lower portion. The rate of postoperative facial nerve paralysis was significantly higher for tumors in deep locations than in superficial locations (33.9% vs 14.9%, respectively), and the odds ratios for postoperative facial nerve paralysis in the U-P-D and U-A-D locations were 7.6 and 4.8 compared to the L-P-S location. When maximum diameter, operation time, bleeding volume, sex (reference: female), and age were added as control variables, the odds ratios were 4.2 and 3.0.


      Determining tumor localization preoperatively with the new localization-based classification of parotid tumors is helpful not only for predicting the histopathological type but also for predicting surgical complications, particularly postoperative facial nerve paralysis.


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