January 11, 2013

Parkinson's Disease Diagnosed by Salivary Gland Biopsy

Taken from Wikipedia
Currently, diagnosing Parkinson's Disease (a degenerative neurological disorder) is hard, usually a clinical exam and assessment of symptoms by a neurologist with at best about an 80% accuracy rate. There is no "test" per se that can diagnose Parkinson's Disease... until possibly now.


According to a study released in advance of its presentation at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology, which will be held from March 16 to 23 in San Diego, Mayo Clinic researchers have determined a submandibular gland biopsy can offer 82% certainty whether a living patient has Parkinson's Disease or not. What is so special about this particular gland located under the jawline?

In patients with Parkinson's Disease, an uniquely abnormal protein called alpha-synuclein protein can be found.

In order to "biopsy" the submandibular gland which produces saliva, it does require a head and neck surgeon given the gland's location under the jawline. Beyond the usual risks of bleeding and infection present with any type of surgery, additional risks with this biopsy include:

• Permanent lip paralysis as the nerve that goes to the lower lip is located right over this gland.
• Permanent tongue paralysis as the nerve that moves the tongue is located right under this gland.
• Permanent numbness of the mouth floor as the nerve that provides sensation in this location is also located right under the gland.

Also, there are questions that need to be answered before this test is available more widely including:

How early in the Parkinson's Disease will this protein accumulate in the submandibular gland? If there is an "accumulation" time period, when is the best time to do the biopsy than?

Does the biopsy require a bloc of tissue or can a needle biopsy be sufficient (thereby reducing some of the surgical risks)?

Will insurance pay for this procedure?

Also, when is the paper going to be published regarding these results and can others replicate these findings? Here's the presentation abstract...

New saliva gland test may better diagnose patients with Parkinson's. FoxNews 1/11/13

Salivary Gland Biopsy as a Diagnostic Test for Parkinson's Disease. AAN 65th Annual Meeting Abstract

Fauquier blog
Fauquier ENT

Dr. Christopher Chang is a private practice otolaryngology, head & neck surgeon specializing in the treatment of problems related to the ear, nose, and throat. Located in Warrenton, VA about 45 minutes west of Washington DC, he also provides inhalant allergy testing/treatment, hearing tests, and dispenses hearing aids.

1 comment:

Justhinkin said...

Very quickly: I have heard a lot about the subject of the blog above (in the interim), but would ask if you have heard whether or not chronic episodes of bilateral swelling of (only) these particular glands (not as a result of eating or other salivary stimulation, and with only minor to moderate discomfort if any) MAY be an indication of PD (especially if accompanied by a "laundry list" of other PD sx)?

My mother, who has definite, diagnosed PD, and I have shared this sx (submandibular salivary gland swelling in periodic "attacks") for decades (as well as a number of other PD sx), with no other explanation being offered.

Thank you for your blog and your time!

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