Salivary glands
Developmental disorders

Author: F. Zahra Aly, M.D., Ph.D. (see Authors page)

Revised: 12 March 2018, last major update August 2011

Copyright: (c) 2003-2018,, Inc.

PubMed Search: Heterotopia salivary glands[TIAB]

Cite this page: Aly, F.Z. Heterotopia. website. Accessed July 21st, 2018.
Definition / general
  • Also called ectopia
  • Normal salivary gland tissue at a site where normally not present
  • Usually in head and neck
  • Due to abnormal persistence and development of vestigial structures, misplacement of salivary gland rests along embryologic pathways of migration during development or by salivary differentiation from remnants of primitive embryologic structures
  • Intranodal (periparotid most common) or extranodal
  • May undergo same pathologic processes as usual salivary gland tissue
  • Most common neoplasm is Warthin tumor
  • More common than extranodal
  • In infants, most nodes within / near parotid gland contain salivary gland tissue, usually in medullary portion of node
  • Frequent but less common in adults
  • Usually composed of intercalated and intralobular ducts but also serous type acini and immature ducts
  • May be high or low in head and neck
  • High: mandible, mastoid bone, external and middle ear, tonsil, mylohyoid muscle, palatine tonsil, gingiva, pituitary gland, cerebellopontine angle; due to abnormalities in migration of embryonic tissue
  • Low: related to bronchial pouches in lower neck, thyroid gland or parathyroid gland; most commonly at medial border of right sternocleidomastoid muscle near sternoclavicular joint
Case reports
Additional references