Salivary Gland Biopsy (Lip Biopsy)

The biopsy of salivary glands on the lower lip is considered an important method in the diagnosis of the so-called Sjögren's syndrome.

This is an autoimmune disease that leads, among other things, to inflammation of the salivary and lacrimal glands. This results in a loss of function of the glands, which manifests itself in dryness of the mucous membranes of the eyes and mouth.

The inflammation can be directly detected by biopsy of the lower lip and a prognosis on the course of the disease can also be made. Other reasons for a loss of glandular function can be sought, e.g. IgG4-associated disease, which can be detected by using special staining methods of the inflammatory cells.

Procedure of salivary gland biopsy

The biopsy is performed under local anaesthesia (lidocaine) on the inside of the lower lip mucosa. As soon as the area is insensitive, a small incision is made. Following this, several small glands about the size of a pinhead are removed with tweezers. Suturing is not necessary.


Possible complications include local infection, bleeding, an allergic reaction to the local anaesthetic, or cyst formation at the incision site. In rare cases, there may be numbness of the lower lip, which usually goes away on its own. Blood-thinning medications must be paused in time to reduce the risk of bleeding before the biopsy (after consultation with the treating physicians).

Responsible doctors

Marco Sprecher, Dr. med.

Attending Physician, Department of Rheumatology

Tel. +41 44 255 26 87
Specialties: Sjögren's syndrome, Salivary gland biopsies

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