Parotid duct

The parotid duct, also known as Stensen duct, drains saliva from the parotid gland into the oral cavity. It secretes primarily serous saliva.

The parotid duct is approximately 5cm long and passes anteriorly through the buccal fat superficial to the masseter muscle and over its anterior border, then through the buccopharyngeal fascia and the buccinator muscle. It then continues between the buccal mucosa and the buccinator to its opening in the vestibule of the mouth, located next to the upper second molar tooth at the parotid ampulla. The buccinator muscle ensures that ballooning of the duct does not occur during blowing.

Several other structures run alongside the parotid duct:

Blockage of the parotid duct can occur secondary to salivary duct stones or external compression. Either cause of obstruction can cause pain and parotitis. Stones are more common in the submandibular gland and duct.

It is named after the Danish anatomist Niels Stensen (1638-1686) 2 who first fully described its existence although several other anatomists had noted its existence 3.

Head and neck anatomy
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Article information

rID: 10458
System: Head & Neck
Section: Anatomy
Tag: cases
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Stensen's duct
  • Duct of Stensen
  • Stensen duct

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Cases and figures

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    Case 1: parotid sialadenitis
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    Case 2: parotid duct stone
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