Journal of Pharmacy And Bioallied Sciences
Journal of Pharmacy And Bioallied Sciences Login  | Users Online: 839  Print this pageEmail this pageSmall font sizeDefault font sizeIncrease font size 
    Home | About us | Editorial board | Search | Ahead of print | Current Issue | Past Issues | Instructions | Online submission

 Table of Contents  
Year : 2012  |  Volume : 4  |  Issue : 6  |  Page : 180-182  

Mucocele: An unusual presentation of the minor salivary gland lesion

Department of Oral Medicine and Radiology, K. S. R. Institute of Dental Science and Research, Trichengode, Namakkal, Tamil Nadu, India

Date of Submission01-Dec-2011
Date of Decision02-Jan-2012
Date of Acceptance26-Jan-2012
Date of Web Publication28-Aug-2012

Correspondence Address:
B Senthilkumar
Department of Oral Medicine and Radiology, K. S. R. Institute of Dental Science and Research, Trichengode, Namakkal, Tamil Nadu
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0975-7406.100265

Rights and Permissions

A mucocele is a benign, mucus-containing cystic lesion of the minor salivary gland. This type of lesion is most commonly referred to as mucocele. The more common is a mucus extravasation cyst; the other is a mucus retention cyst. Other three clinical variants are: Superficial mucocele that is located directly under the mucosa, classic variant located in the upper submucosa, and deep mucocele located in the lower cornium. Mucocele occurs either due to rupture of salivary gland duct or by blockade of salivary gland duct. The common site of occurrence of mucocele is lower lip followed by tongue, floor of mouth (ranula), and the buccal mucosa.

Keywords: Buccal mucosa, hypoechogenic, mucocele, salivary gland, ultrasound

How to cite this article:
Senthilkumar B, Mahabob M N. Mucocele: An unusual presentation of the minor salivary gland lesion. J Pharm Bioall Sci 2012;4, Suppl S2:180-2

How to cite this URL:
Senthilkumar B, Mahabob M N. Mucocele: An unusual presentation of the minor salivary gland lesion. J Pharm Bioall Sci [serial online] 2012 [cited 2022 Aug 10];4, Suppl S2:180-2. Available from:

Mucocele is a common lesion of the oral mucosa that results from an alteration of minor salivary glands due to mucus accumulation causing limited swelling. [1] Two types of mucocele can appear: Extravasation and retention. Extravasation mucocele results from a broken salivary gland duct and consequent spillage into the soft tissue around this gland. Retention mucocele appears due to decrease or absence of glandular secretion produced by blockage of salivary gland ducts. [2],[3] The histological difference between extravasation and retention cyst is that the extravasation type has no epithelial lining and is formed by a mucus pool surrounded by granulation tissue and the retention cyst has an epithelial lining. [4],[5]

   Case Report Top

A 35-year-old female patient visited the Department of Oral Medicine and Radiology, K. S. R. Dental College, Trichengode, with a chief complaint of swelling in the left inner aspect of the cheek for the past 3 months. History revealed that she had a history of trauma to the left side of the face before 6 months and had mild laceration in that site which healed on its own. Three months later, she developed a small swelling which gradually increased in size. She also gave a history of traumatizing the swelling with a tooth pick, followed by recurrent development of swelling in the same region; there was no associated pain. Past medical and dental history was not contributory. On extraoral examination, there was mild asymmetry on the left side close to the angle of the mouth with bluish purple changes in the site of the lesion [Figure 1] and [Figure 2].
Figure 1: Mild facial asymmetry on the left side close to the angle of the mouth

Click here to view
Figure 2: Mild swelling with bluish color change in the site of the lesion

Click here to view

On intraoral examination, a solitary, well-defined, dome-shaped swelling was seen on the left buccal mucosa in the region of 34, 35, 36, measuring around 4×3 cm in size, which was oval in shape, with a smooth surface and a bluish translucent hue [Figure 3] and [Figure 4]. The swelling was soft in consistency, non-tender, fluctuant, compressible, non-reducible, and non-pulsatile, with no increase in temperature. A differential diagnosis of mucocele, oral hemangioma, oral lympangioma, lipoma, and soft tissue abscess was made. And since the swelling was large and the color was bluish purple, the patient was advised for ultrasound in the left cheek [Figure 5], which revealed a hypoechogenic cystic mass of 6×3 cm in size, with distinct margins; no echoes were seen within the mass. Fine needle aspiration cytology (FNAC) was done, and 1 ml of thick, viscous, sticky, and blood-mixed mucus secretion was collected [Figure 6] and sent for chemical analysis which showed increase in amylase and protein content. A final diagnosis was formulated as mucocele from the history of trauma, clinical features, and investigation (ultrasound, chemical analysis). Since the lesion was large, marsupialization was done and sent for histopathologic investigation which revealed a mucin-filled cyst-like cavity beneath the mucosal surface [Figure 7]. The lesion was packed with iodoform gauze for 10 days, which led to complete regression of the swelling, and the patient was kept under observation for 3 months with no recurrence.
Figure 3: A dome-shaped swelling of size 4×3 cm on left buccal mucosa

Click here to view
Figure 4: Swelling in region of 34, 35, 36 with bluish hue and smooth surface

Click here to view
Figure 5: Ultrasound shows hypoechogenic mass in left cheek with well-defined margins

Click here to view
Figure 6: Sticky, viscous mucus secretion aspirated from the lesion

Click here to view
Figure 7: An area of spilled mucin surrounded by a granulation tissue

Click here to view

   Discussion Top

Mucoceles are mucus containing cystic lesions of the minor salivary glands; they are the 15 th common oral mucosal lesion with a prevalence of 2.4 cases per 1000 people. Mucoceles occurs in young individuals, with 70% of them being younger than 20 years. Superficial mucoceles tend to occur in individuals older than 30 years and ranulas occur in children and young adults, with a peak frequency in the second decade. Mucus retention cysts occur in older individuals; the peak prevalence occurs in persons aged 50-60 years. Lower lip is the most common site of occurrence, followed by tongue, floor of mouth (ranula), and the buccal mucosa. [6],[7]

The clinical appearance of a mucus cyst is a distinct, fluctuant, painless swelling of the mucosa. About 75% of the lesions are smaller than 1 cm in diameter; however, rarely, the size can vary from few millimeters to several centimeters. Superficial lesions take on a bluish to translucent hue, whereas deep lesions have normal mucosal coloration and bleeding into the swelling may impart a bright red and vascular appearance. The patient may relate a history of recent or past trauma to the mouth or face or the patient may have a habit of biting the lip. The various differential diagnoses are Blandin and Nuhn mucocele, oral hemangioma, oral lymphangioma, lipoma, and soft tissue abscess. [8]

The history and clinical findings lead to the diagnosis of a superficial mucocele. Radiographic evaluation is considered if sialoliths are considered a contributing factor in the formation of oral and cervical ranulas. Ultrasonography has been used to evaluate the lesions, and with high-frequency transducers, ultrasound demonstrates the internal structures more clearly than computed tomography (CT). Hence, congenital and acquired cysts of salivary glands are normally filled with transparent fluid; because of this, the typical sonographic criteria for cystic structures are identifiable: An echo-free tumor, sharply bordered with distal acoustic enhancement.

Lymphangioma and hemangioma show similar sonomorphologic characteristics. On examination, loosely connected alveolar, structural patterns composed partially of hypoechogenic and hyperechogenic areas can be detected.

Intra- and extraglandular lipomas appear as sharply demarcated, ovoid masses with hypoechogenic, homogeneous reflection patterns. Lipoma shows a more hypoechogenic reflection pattern than the remaining parenchyma of the salivary gland, but its echo texture is more hyperechogenic than that of other types of intraglandular tumors and exhibits a linear, hyperechogenic feathery texture.

Soft tissue abscesses appear hypoechogenic to echo-free with hyperechogenic border, and a distinct distal acoustic enhancement and roughly patterned hyperechogenic echoes at the center of liquefaction foci, can correspond to necrotic tissue contributors. [9] So, ultrasound can rule out the type of lesion before surgical interventions can be attempted. The demonstration of mucus retention phenomenon and inflammatory cells can be done by fine needle aspiration, and high amylase and protein content can be revealed in chemical analysis. The localization and determination of the origin of the lesion can be done by CT and magnetic resonance imaging. [10]

Surgical excision with removal of the accessory salivary glands has been suggested as the treatment. Marsupialization will only result in recurrence, but large lesions are best treated with unroofing procedures (marsupialization). It is done to prevent significant loss of tissue or to decrease the risk for significantly traumatizing the labial branch of mental nerve. If fibrous wall is thick, moderate sized lesions may be treated by dissection. If this approach is used, the adjacent minor salivary glands must be removed carefully to avoid injury to any marginal glands and ducts, which may lead to recurrence of the lesion. The excised tissue should be submitted to the pathological investigations to confirm the diagnosis. Laser ablation, cryosurgery, and electrocautery are approaches that have also been used for treatment of the conventional mucoceles, with variable success. [11],[12]

   References Top

1.Bangan Sebastin JV, Silvertre Donat FJ, Penarroeha Diago M, Milan Masanet MA. Clinico-pathological study of oral mucoceles. Av Odontoestomatol 1990;6:389-91,394-5.  Back to cited text no. 1
2.Boneu-Bonet F, Vidal-Homs E, Maizcurrana-Tornil A, Gonzalez-Lagunas J. Sub maxillary gland mucocele: Presentation of a case. Med Oral Patol Oral Cir Bucal 2005;10:180-4.  Back to cited text no. 2
3.Baurmash H, The etiology of superficial oral mucoceles. J. Oral Maxillofacial Surgery 2002;60:237-8.  Back to cited text no. 3
4.Bonder L, Tal H. Salivary gland cysts of the oral cavity: Clinical observation and surgical management. Compendium 1991;12:150-6.  Back to cited text no. 4
5.Yamasoba T, Tayama N, Syoji M, Fukuta M. Clinicostatistical study of lower lip mucoceles. Head Neck:1990;12:316-20.  Back to cited text no. 5
6.Seifert G, Miehlke A, Haubrich J. Diseases of salivary glands. 12. New York: Thieme; 1986. p. 91-100.  Back to cited text no. 6
7.Humpery PA, Dehner LP, Feifer JP. The Washington manual of surgical pathology. Salivary Gland Pathology (chapter). Section I, Head Neck. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins; 2004. p. 70-2.  Back to cited text no. 7
8.Jinbu Y, Itoh H. Mucoceles of the glands of blandin-nuhn: Clinical and histopathologic analysis of 26 cases. Oral Surg Oral Med Oral Pathol Oral Radiol Endod 2003;95:467-70.  Back to cited text no. 8
9.Carter B, Karmody CS, editors. Imaging of salivary glands in thrall, ed. Current practice of radiology. 9. St. Louis: Mosby; 1993. p. 631-42.  Back to cited text no. 9
10.Sugerman PB, Savage NW, Young WG. Mucocele of the anterior salivary glands: Report of 8 cases. Oral Surg Oral Med Oral Pathol Oral Radiol Endod 2000;90:478-82.  Back to cited text no. 10
11.Anastassov GE, Haiavy J, Solodnik P, Lee H, Lumerman H. Submandibular gland mucocele: Diagnosis and management. Oral Surg Oral Med Oral Pathol Oral Radiol Endod 2000;89:159-63.  Back to cited text no. 11
12.Jenesen JL. Superficial mucoceles of the oral mucosa: Am J Dermatopathol 1990;12:88-92.  Back to cited text no. 12


  [Figure 1], [Figure 2], [Figure 3], [Figure 4], [Figure 5], [Figure 6], [Figure 7]

This article has been cited by
1 Preliminary experience with promethazine hydrochloride injection in the sclerotherapy of oral mucocele
Y. Huang, C. Yang, T. Wang, S. Liu, A. Chen
International Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. 2021; 50(4): 516
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
2 Management of Mucoceles, Sialoceles, and Ranulas
Eve M.R. Bowers, Barry Schaitkin
Otolaryngologic Clinics of North America. 2021; 54(3): 543
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
3 Recurrent oral vesicles in a female child with allogenic bone marrow transplantation
Farzana Ansari, Anupama Bains, Anil Budania, Abhishek Bhardwaj
Pediatric Dermatology. 2021; 38(2): 487
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
4 Oral mucocele treated with acupuncture: a case report
So Young Park, Min Hee Kim, Inhwa Choi
Acupuncture in Medicine. 2021; 39(4): 400
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
5 Utility of ultrasonography as an auxiliary method in the diagnosis of lesions in oral soft tissues
Felipe Leal Martins,Fernanda Gonçalves Salum,Karen Cherubini,Maria Antonia Zancanaro de Figueiredo
Oral Radiology. 2015; 31(3): 137
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
6 Contribution of Ultrasonography to the Diagnosis of Submucosal and Subcutaneous Nodular Lesions of the Oral and Maxillofacial Region: Analysis of Cases
Felipe Leal Martins,Fernanda Gonçalves Salum,Karen Cherubini,Roberto Oliveira,Maria Antonia Zancanaro de Figueiredo
Journal of Maxillofacial and Oral Surgery. 2014;
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
7 Oral Manifestations of Allergic, Infectious, and Immune-mediated Disease
Gregory M. Cowan,Richard F. Lockey
The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice. 2014; 2(6): 686
[Pubmed] | [DOI]


    Similar in PUBMED
   Search Pubmed for
   Search in Google Scholar for
 Related articles
    Access Statistics
    Email Alert *
    Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)  

  In this article
   Case Report
    Article Figures

 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded295    
    Comments [Add]    
    Cited by others 7    

Recommend this journal