Lacrimal gland masses

Lacrimal gland masses​ can be classified into two broad groups - inflammatory (~50%) and neoplastic, either lymphoma (25%) or salivary gland type tumours (~25%). 



Most are epithelial in origin, with ~50% benign and ~50% malignant. 

Benign epithelial tumours 

These lesions are slow-growing masses more commonly found in adults in their fourth to fifth decades of life:

Malignant epithelial tumours
Non-epithelial neoplasms

Most of these cases are seen in the third decade of life, but distribution is bimodal with an earlier peak in the teenage years.

Differential diagnosis

Other rare causes of lacrimal gland masses include tuberculosis, amyloidosis, thyroid-associated orbitopathy, granulomatosis with polyangiitis. Sickle cell disease is reported to cause lacrimal gland oedema 4

Extra-lacrimal masses that occur in the superolateral orbit should be considered, e.g. dermoid/epidermoid cyst, subperiosteal abscess 2

Share article

Article information

rID: 12160
System: Head & Neck
Section: Gamuts
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Lacrimal gland tumours
  • Lacrimal gland tumors
  • Tumours of the lacrimal glands
  • Mass lesions involving the lacrimal glands

Support Radiopaedia and see fewer ads

Cases and figures

  • Drag
    Case 1: adenoid cystic carcinoma
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Drag
    Case 2: acinic cell adenocarcinoma
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Drag
    Pleomorphic adeno...
    Case 3: pleomorphic adenoma
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Drag
    Case 4: lacrimal gland lymphoma
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Drag
    Case 5: lacrimal gland lymphoma
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Drag
    Case 6: lacrimal gland lymphoma
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Drag
    Case 7: Sjogren syndrome
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Updating… Please wait.

    Alert accept

    Error Unable to process the form. Check for errors and try again.

    Alert accept Thank you for updating your details.