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High Prevalence of Thyroid Disease and Role of Salivary Gland Scintigraphy in Patients with Xerostomia



Although Sjögren’s syndrome (SS) is the most common disease causing xerostomia, autoimmune thyroid diseases can also affect the salivary glands. The aim of our study was to estimate the prevalence of thyroid diseases (TD) in subjects with symptoms of xerostomia and evaluate the efficacy of salivary gland scintigraphy (SGS) in the detection of TD in patients with SS and without SS.


We retrospectively reviewed the SGS findings of 173 subjects (men:women, 29:144) with symptoms of xerostomia. Ejection fractions (EF) in the parotid and submandibular glands were calculated. Thyroid disease was diagnosed on the basis of the results of the visual assessment of tracer uptake in the thyroid gland on SGS images as well as serological thyroid function tests.


Based on the American-European Criteria, 94 patients were diagnosed with SS. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis was diagnosed in 63 patients, subacute thyroiditis in 23, subclinical hypothyroidism in five, and Graves’ disease in one. There were significant differences in the EF values of the parotid and submandibular glands between patients with TD and those with undetermined diagnoses.


More than half of patients with xerostomia exhibited TD. Thyroid assessment by SGS is feasible, and SGS appears to be useful for the patients with xerostomia caused by TD. SGS may be the first imaging modality capable of evaluating both salivary gland function and thyroid gland status in patients with xerostomia. This strategy would make the requirement for additional workup for thyroid disease.

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This study was supported by a grant from the Korea Health Technology R&D Project through the Korea Health Industry Development Institute (KHIDI), funded by the Ministry of Health & Welfare, Republic of Korea (grant number: HI15C0001).

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Correspondence to Byeong-Cheol Ahn.

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Conflict of Interest

Ji-hoon Jung, Chang-Hee Lee, Seung Hyun Son, Ju Hye Jeong, Shin Young Jeong, Sang-Woo Lee, Jaetae Lee, Byeong-Cheol Ahn declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Statement

The study protocol had been approved by the Ethics Committee of the Kyungpook National University Hospital (KNUH 2016-03-034-002). All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments. No informed consent was needed, because of the retrospective design of our study.

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Jung, J., Lee, C., Son, S.H. et al. High Prevalence of Thyroid Disease and Role of Salivary Gland Scintigraphy in Patients with Xerostomia. Nucl Med Mol Imaging 51, 169–177 (2017).

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  • Salivary gland scintigraphy
  • Sjögren’s syndrome
  • Thyroid disease
  • Xerostomia