This page explains what is involved in a Sialogram and what to expect.
What is a Sialogram?
A Sialogram is a scan to look at your child’s salivary glands. These are located inside the mouth, one in each cheek and one on each side near the tongue.
When you receive your appointment letter
If you are unable to keep this appointment, please inform the department as soon as possible.
If your child is likely to need a hoist during the appointment, please telephone us so that we can make sure this is ready for you.
Before the appointment
If you are pregnant or think you could be pregnant, please let us know. The x-rays used in the fluoroscopy scan could harm your unborn baby, so we would advise bringing another adult to come into the scanning room with your child.
If your child is 12 years old or older and of childbearing potential, we will ask them about their periods and any possibility that they could be pregnant; this is a legal obligation that we must ask.
The person bringing your child to the scan should have ‘Parental Responsibility’ for them. Parental Responsibility refers to the individual who has legal rights, responsibilities, duties, power and authority to make decisions for a child. If the person bringing your child does not have Parental Responsibility, we may have to cancel the scan.
What to bring with you?
- It can help if your child has a favourite toy to hold to comfort them during the study. Electronic devices such as iPads are welcome.
- You might want to bring some spare clothes in case any of the contrast liquid spills.
The day of the examination
Please arrive at the Radiology department at the time stated in your child’s appointment letter.
Please dress your child in clothing which does not contain metal, for example zips and buttons.
You are welcome to stay with your child throughout the test. Everyone staying inside the examination room will need to wear a heavy lead coat.
Before we begin, your child will need to remove any metallic objects and may need to wear a hospital gown.
Your child will lie on the x-ray bed and the doctor will give your child a few drops of pure lemon juice or a sweet to suck on. This is to stimulate the salivary glands to produce saliva and so the radiology doctor can see the opening of the little tube that brings saliva into the opening in the mouth.
We will ask your child to open their mouth widely while the doctor inserts a thin probe just inside the opening of each salivary gland. A small amount of liquid will be passed through the probe and into the gland.
A series of x-rays will then be taken while the liquid is in the salivary glands.
You may wish to talk the test through with your child before you come. The radiology doctor will need to be working close to your child and your child will need to keep very still while the tiny probe is placed inside the mouth. This is not painful at all but does require that the child really tries to cooperate – as best they can.
After the study
Once the study is complete, the probes will be removed from the mouth. You will be free to go home.
A report outlining the results of the test will be sent to the doctor who referred your child for this test.
When you get home
Your child’s mouth may be sore after the procedure. You may give your child pain relief if required. If your child develops a high temperature, or becomes unwell, please contact your family doctor (GP) or attend your local A&E.
Are there any risks?
The contrast liquid will not interfere with any medicines your child is taking.
It is our legal duty to tell you about the potential risk of having a fluoroscopy study. The studies are only ever requested if the benefits outweigh the risks involved. The study does use radiation, but the dose is kept as low as possible. This is because the radiographers are specially trained to obtain the best quality pictures while using the lowest amount of radiation possible.
Anyone staying in the room with your child will need to wear a lead apron – this works as a barrier to radiation. We advise that anyone who is pregnant or thinks they might be pregnant should not go into the room.
Are there any alternatives?
Other types of imaging studies can also visualise the salivary glands and we may also perform ultrasound and/or MRI (although this will need to be booked separately).
Further information and support
If you have any questions, please telephone the Radiology department on 020 7829 8615, extension 0361.
If your child feels unwell after the test, please phone NHS 111 or attend your local Urgent Care Centre or Emergency Department.
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Patient Advice and Liaison Service (Pals)
Another way of raising a concern is to contact our Patient Advice and Liaison Service (Pals). The Pals team can offer independent advice and support, working with you to sort out a problem along with members of staff.
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