Quality of Life following Parotidectomy for Malignant and Benign Disease


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Abstract

Parotidectomy is performed for benign or malignant tumors and for selected benign inflammatory and autoimmune conditions. Possible associated complications include facial nerve paralysis, pain, loss of sensation, gustatory sweating, and facial scarring. Global quality of life in patients undergoing parotidectomy has not been reported. The implications of facial surgery with the catastrophic potential of facial nerve paralysis may severely affect quality of life. A quality-of-life study was conducted in patients undergoing parotidectomy for benign and malignant diseases to define the significance of associated morbidity and its impact on quality of life. A quality-of-life instrument was specifically created, based on the principles of the University of Washington Quality of Life questionnaire, and mailed to the patients. Questions addressed recognized complications of parotidectomy. Patient group results were compared for age above and below 45 years, sex, benign versus malignant disease, presence or absence of Frey syndrome, and presence or absence of benign pleomorphic adenoma. Forty-six percent of 125 patients meeting the study criteria fully replied to the questionnaire. The global health score was 3.5, corresponding with “good” to “very good.” Except for local sensation, which had a score of 50, all other domains scored above 76. Change in appearance, gustatory sweating, and pain were reported by 70 percent, 57 percent, and 30 percent, respectively. Importance attributed to all domains except facial function was low. Pain was encountered significantly less in patients younger than 45 years of age, and scores for appearance were also highly significant in this age group. Postoperative sequelae were noted in the majority of patients. The dominant sequelae were altered sensation, change in appearance, Frey syndrome, and pain. A degree of permanent postoperative facial nerve impairment was reported by 10 patients. Nevertheless, overall, parotidectomy does not seem to severely affect quality of life.

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