Types of salivary mucoceles in dogs (cervical, sublingual, pharyngeal, zygomatic) can be characterized by saliva accumulation in soft tissue spaces adjacent to glands. This study described 14 dogs (7 toy/miniature poodles) with pharyngeal mucoceles. Acute dyspnea was the most common presenting sign, and inspiratory stridor the second most common. Other signs included dysphagia, gagging, hypersalivation, coughing, stertor, and cyanosis. Aspiration yielded mucoid viscous material in 13 dogs, with cytology samples (from 2 dogs) showing a mixed inflammation with macrophages. Mandibular and sublingual gland excision was performed in 11 dogs, with salivary gland excision being the only surgical procedure in 3 of these dogs. Three other dogs had the mucocele aspirated and drained at gland removal, and 2 had mucocele marsupialization with associated gland removal. One dog that originally had partial excision of the mucocele without salivary gland excision had recurrence 3 weeks postoperatively. At this point the sublingual and mandibular salivary glands were excised and the mucocele marsupialized; evaluation 2.5 years later showed no recurrence. Because of the small number of cases in this study, comparison of surgical techniques was difficult; however, removal of the affected salivary gland was important.

Salivary mucoceles can be challenging to address, as the offending gland must be identified and removed. Pharyngeal mucoceles added to the challenge by being hidden in the oral cavity in a potentially unstable patient. This largest study of pharyngeal mucoceles to date  provided a new perspective beyond resection and marsupialization of the gland(s), although long-term follow-up was lacking in all except 2 cases. Index of suspicion for a pharyngeal mucocele should be raised when treating middle-aged, male, small-breed dogs with appropriate signs. Because of the higher incidence of concurrent cervical mucoceles and the possibility that the gland may be the source of leakage (instead of ductular compromise), this study supported routine removal of the sublingual and mandibular glands.—Kristy Broaddus, DVM, DACVS

Pharyngeal mucoceles in dogs: 14 cases. Benjamino KP, Birchard SJ, Niles JD, Penrod KD. JAAHA 48:31-35, 2012.