The parotid space is a roughly pyramidal space, the broad elongated base facing laterally, formed by the superficial layer of the deep cervical fascia overlying the superficial lobe of the parotid gland, and its apex pointing medially. It is traversed by the external carotid artery (ECA), retromandibular vein and facial nerve.
- parotid glands
- intraparotid lymph nodes
- intraparotid facial nerve (CN VII)
- external carotid artery (ECA)
- retromandibular vein
- lateral to the parapharyngeal space
- medial to superficial space and subcutaneous tissue
- anterior to the carotid space (Note: posterior belly of the digastric muscle forms a variable portion of the posteromedial border of the parotid space and at times this muscular band helps to differentiate a deep-lobe parotid space lesion to one arising in the carotid space)
- posterior to the masticator space
The space is circumscribed by the superficial layer of the deep cervical fascia:
- superior margin: external auditory canal; apex of the mastoid process
- inferior margin: inferior mandibular margin (although the parotid tail can extend further inferiorly below the angle of the mandible)
- anterior margin: masticator space
Any mass originating from the parotid space will be centered within the parotid gland.
A large mass arising within the deep lobe of the parotid will medially displace fat in the parapharyngeal space and cause posteromedial displacement of the posterior belly of the digastric muscle and carotid space. There is also often associated widening of the stylomandibular notch.
Harnsberger HR, Glastonbury CM, Michel MA et-al. Diagnostic Imaging: Head and Neck. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. (2010) ISBN:1931884781
- first branchial cleft cyst
- cystic hygroma/lymphangioma
- salivary gland tumours
- benign tumour
- primary malignant tumour
- metastatic malignant tumour
- metastatic adenopathy
- parotid cysts
- chronic granulomatous parotitis
- Sjogren's syndrome/autoimmune
- Benign lymphoepithelial cysts (AIDS)
- Nodular fascitis
- Reactive adenopathy
Imaging of the Head and Neck. Thieme. (2012) ISBN:3131505311.
Gray's Anatomy (20th U.S. edition of Gray's Anatomy of the Human Body, published in 1918)