Sialolipoma of minor salivary glands
Cassiano Francisco Weege Nonaka, DDS, MSc, Karuza Maria Alves Pereira, DDS, MSc, Pedro Paulo de Andrade Santos, DDS, MSc, Roseana de Almeida Freitas, DDS, PhD,
Márcia Cristina da Costa Miguel, DDS, PhD ⁎
Postgraduate Program, Oral Pathology, Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte, CEP: 59056-000, Natal, RN, Brazil
Abstract Sialolipoma is a recently described histologic variant of lipoma and is characterized by well- demarcated proliferation of mature adipocytes with secondary entrapment of salivary gland elements.
These tumors have been observed in both the major and minor salivary glands, with more than 20 cases being reported in the English literature. In general, the clinical presentation of sialolipomas of the minor salivary glands suggests a diagnostic hypothesis of salivary gland lesions, commonly neoplasms. In the major salivary glands, the clinical features suggest either a salivary gland neoplasm or a lipoma. Surgical excision is the treatment of choice for sialolipomas, with no reports of recurrence or malignant transformation. The present article reports 4 additional cases of sialolipoma, all of them affecting the minor salivary glands, and reviews the literature regarding clinicopathologic aspects, differential diagnosis, and therapeutic management of this recently recognized histologic variant of lipoma.
© 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Salivary gland lipoma; Sialolipoma; Lipoma; Salivary gland; Histopathology
Lipomas are benign neoplasms of mature adipose tissue that are relatively uncommon in the oral cavity, corresponding to 0.1% to 5.0% of all benign tumors at this anatomical site . Despite their low frequency, several histopathologic variants of lipoma have been identified in the oral cavity, including fibrolipoma, angiolipoma, chondroli- poma, chondroid lipoma, pleomorphic lipoma, and spindle- cell lipoma[2-4].
Sialolipomas, which have been recognized as a distinct entity by Nagao et al , are characterized by a well- demarcated proliferation of mature adipocytes with second- ary entrapment of salivary gland elements [5,6]. These tumors have been observed in both the major[3,7]and minor salivary glands [4,6,8]. To our knowledge, more than 20
cases of sialolipoma have been reported in the English literature (Pubmed database).
The present article reports 4 additional cases of sialolipoma, all of them affecting the minor salivary glands, and reviews the literature regarding clinicopathologic aspects, differential diagnosis, and therapeutic management of this recently recognized histologic variant of lipoma.
2. Case reports 2.1. Case 1
A 27-year-old woman was referred to our department for evaluation of a painless, firm, pinkish nodule located in the posterior region of the lateral margin of the tongue (Fig. 1).
The nodule measured 1.0 × 1.0 cm in diameter and had been noted by the patient 5 years earlier. The patient's medical history was unremarkable. An excisional biopsy was performed based on the initial clinical diagnosis of fibroma.
Microscopic analysis revealed proliferation of mature adipo- cytes and the presence of entrapped salivary gland parenchy- ma showing atrophic mucous acini and markedly dilated ducts
Annals of Diagnostic Pathology 15 (2011) 6–11
⁎ Corresponding author. Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Norte–Departamento de Odontologia, Av. Senador Salgado Filho, 1787, 59056-000 Lagoa Nova–Natal, RN, Brazil. Tel.: +55 84 3215 4138;
fax: +55 84 3215 4138.
E-mail address:email@example.com(M.C. da Costa Miguel).
1092-9134/$– see front matter © 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
(Fig. 2). The adipose tissue accounted for about 50% of the tumor volume, and the glandular elements presented as sparsely distributed epithelial islands of variable size.
Fibrosis, squamous metaplasia of duct cells, and a discrete lymphoplasmacytic inflammatory infiltrate were also ob- served. A sharp demarcation from the surrounding tissue was noted at the periphery of the tumor. The definitive diagnosis was sialolipoma. The postoperative recovery was uneventful.
2.2. Case 2
A 73-year-old woman presented with a painless mass located on the left side of the floor of her mouth. The mass was well demarcated, was covered with a nonulcerated mucosa of normal color, and measured 4.0 × 1.0 cm in diameter. Her medical history was noncontributory. An excisional biopsy was performed based on the initial clinical diagnosis of ranula. Histopathologic examination revealed proliferation of mature adipocytes with entrapped mucous
acini and ducts of the minor salivary glands. The glandular parenchyma exhibited fibrosis, acinar atrophy, dilated ducts with foci of squamous metaplasia and oncocytic change, and a moderate lymphoplasmacytic inflammatory infiltrate (Fig. 3). The adipose tissue accounted for most of the tumor volume (65%), and the glandular component presented as epithelial islands of variable size distributed throughout the tumor (Fig. 4). A thin fibrous capsule was observed at the periphery of the tumor. The definitive diagnosis was sialolipoma. The postoperative course was uneventful.
2.3. Case 3
A 65-year-old female patient sought a general dentist for evaluation of a painless nodule located in the buccal
Fig. 1. A firm, pinkish nodule located in the posterior region of the lateral margin of the tongue.
Fig. 2. Microscopic analysis revealed proliferation of mature adipocytes and the presence of entrapped salivary gland parenchyma showing atrophic mucous acini and markedly dilated ducts (400×).
Fig. 3. The glandular parenchyma exhibited fibrosis, acinar atrophy, dilated ducts with foci of squamous metaplasia and oncocytic change, and a moderate lymphoplasmacytic inflammatory infiltrate (100×).
Fig. 4. The adipose tissue accounted for most of the tumor volume (65%), and the glandular component presented as epithelial islands of variable size distributed throughout the tumor (100×).
mucosa. The lesion was well demarcated, measured 2.0 cm in maximum diameter, and had been noted by the patient 2 years earlier. The overlying mucosa was intact and of normal color. An excisional biopsy was performed based on the clinical presentation of a fibroma.
Microscopic examination revealed a well-circumscribed tumor consisting of mature adipose tissue and the presence of entrapped salivary gland parenchyma show- ing fibrosis, acinar atrophy, and dilated ducts with foci of oncocytic change. The glandular component presented as sparsely distributed epithelial islands, and the adipose tissue accounted for most of the tumor volume (60%). A discrete lymphoplasmacytic inflammatory infiltrate was superimposed on the glandular parenchyma. There was a sharp demarcation of the tumor from the surrounding connective tissue (Fig. 5). The definitive diagnosis was sialolipoma.
2.4. Case 4
A 68-year-old woman was seen for evaluation of a symptomatic, well-demarcated, firm, pinkish swelling locat- ed in the retromolar pad. The lesion measured 0.9 cm in maximum diameter. An excisional biopsy was performed based on the initial clinical diagnosis of fibroma. Micro- scopic analysis of the specimen revealed proliferation of mature adipocytes enclosing the salivary gland parenchyma.
The glandular component presented acinar atrophy and ductal dilatation associated with a discrete lymphoplasma- cytic inflammatory infiltrate. The adipose tissue accounted for 50% of the tumor volume, and the glandular component presented as sparsely distributed epithelial islands of variable size. A thin fibrous capsule was observed at the periphery of the tumor. The final diagnosis was sialolipoma. The patient showed no clinical signs of recurrence 14 months after surgical excision.
Sialolipoma is a histologic variant of lipoma and is characterized by well-demarcated proliferation of mature adipocytes with secondary involvement of salivary gland parenchyma [5,6]. These tumors share similar clinical features with conventional lipomas, such as a wide range in patient age and the presence of a slow-growing and asymptomatic mass.
Analysis of the 4 present cases, in addition to 26 other cases published in the literature (Table 1), shows a wide range in patient age for sialolipomas, which can affect from newbornsto the elderly[5,6,12](mean age, 50.7 years).
Although previous studies have reported a male preference [5,6], a review of the cases published so far revealed a slightly higher frequency of sialolipomas among females (53.6%).
With respect to salivary gland type, 15 (50%) of the 30 cases reviewed in our study involved the minor salivary glands; and 15 (50%) affected the major salivary glands.
Regarding major salivary gland sialolipomas, 13 (86.7%) cases were observed in the parotid gland[3,5,7,10,11]; and only 2 (13.3%) affected the submandibular gland. With respect to minor salivary gland sialolipomas, we found no preference for a specific site, with cases involving the soft palate, hard palate, tongue, buccal mucosa, floor of the mouth, buccal sulcus, retromolar pad, and lower lip [1,5,6,8,9,15].
Clinically, sialolipomas present as a slowly growing, asymptomatic swelling[4,6,8,9,12]. Tumors located in the major salivary glands usually measure 1.0 to 7.0 cm in diameter (Table 1) (mean, 3.7 cm). In the minor salivary glands, tumor size usually ranges from 0.9 to 4.0 cm in maximum diameter (mean, 1.7 cm). The reported duration is quite variable, ranging from 2 months to 11 years (Table 1).
In most cases, the initial clinical diagnosis of sialolipomas located in the minor salivary glands is benign salivary gland neoplasms such as pleomorphic adenoma or low-grade mucoepidermoid carcinoma [5,6,8]. Although in 3 of our cases the clinical diagnosis suggested was fibroma, one lesion located in the floor of the mouth was clinically diagnosed as ranula. Similarly, Lin et alreported a case of sialolipoma involving the floor of the mouth that raised a clinical diagnostic hypothesis of ranula. In the major salivary glands, the clinical features suggest either salivary gland neoplasmor lipoma[5,7].
Computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) might be useful for the diagnosis of sialolipomas, which appear as a well-circumscribed tumor presenting a low-intensity computed tomographic signal and high MRI intensity. Accordingly, Sakai et alreported a case of sialolipoma located in the palate that showed hyperintensity on T1-weighted images and isointensity on T2-weighted images, features resembling those of subcutaneous fat.
However, in the case reported by Hornigold et al , despite the identification of a fibrous capsule upon histologic examination, MRI failed to detect a well-defined
Fig. 5. There was a sharp demarcation of the tumor from the surrounding connective tissue (40×).
margin of the tumor. In fact, according to these authors, MRI suggested that the tumor apparently had extended into the subcutaneous fat.
Histologically, sialolipomas are well-circumscribed lesions characterized by proliferation of mature adipocytes with secondary involvement of salivary gland parenchy- ma [3-6]. In an immunohistochemical and ultrastructural study of sialolipoma cases, Nagao et al  observed that the glandular components within the tumor consisted of regularly organized epithelial and myoepithelial elements and possessed normal specific cellular phenotypes and no proliferative activity, features seen in normal salivary gland tissue. Thus, the glandular components of sialoli- pomas probably become entrapped during lipomatous proliferation rather than representing true neoplastic elements .
Slight differences in the proportion of adipose and glandular components are observed according to the type of salivary gland affected [5,6]. In the major salivary glands, adipose tissue accounts for 75% to 90% of the neoplasm [3,5,12]. In the case of tumors located in the minor salivary glands, lipomatous tissue accounts for 50%
to 80% of their volume [4-6]. Coherently, in the present cases, adipose tissue accounted for 50% to 65% of the tumor volume.
The glandular component consists of epithelial islands sparsely distributed throughout the tumor [5-7]. Occasion- ally, these epithelial islands are found at the periphery of the tumor [5,8,9]. In addition, in some cases of sialolipoma located in the palate, the epithelial components were found to be clustered . In the present cases, the glandular component consisted of epithelial islands of variable size, sparsely distributed throughout the tumor.
One of the histologic criteria for the diagnosis of sialolipoma is the identification of a fibrous capsule around the tumor [4-8], a finding observed in 2 of the 4 cases reported here. According to Ponniah et al , with few exceptions, almost all parts of the oral cavity contain salivary glands although at variable amounts. Thus, any intraoral lipoma that occurs at these sites might be intermingled with adjacent salivary gland elements .
However, to diagnosis a sialolipoma in the context of minor salivary glands, the amount of adipose tissue and glandular elements should be in equal proportions limited peripherally by a fibrous capsule.
Commonly, the glandular component presents variable degrees of acinar atrophy and ductal dilatation[3-6]. Other histologic features include lymphocytic infiltration, fibrosis, myxoid change in adipose tissue, and squamous and oncocytic metaplasia in ductal cells [3,5,7,9]. Except for
Clinical characteristics, treatment, and follow-up of 30 published cases of sialolipoma
Case Author Age Sex Location Duration Size Treatment Follow-up
1 Nagao et al 20 M Parotid 4 mo 3.5 cm Superficial parotidectomy 91 mo
2 Nagao et al 45 F Parotid 10 y 6 cm Superficial parotidectomy 85 mo
3 Nagao et al 67 M Parotid 2 mo 1.7 cm Superficial parotidectomy 37 mo
4 Nagao et al 66 F Parotid 5 mo 6 cm Superficial parotidectomy 35 mo
5 Nagao et al 42 M Parotid 10 y 6 cm Superficial parotidectomy 20 mo
6 Nagao et al 66 M Soft palate 72 mo 2.2 cm Surgical excision 11 mo
7 Nagao et al 75 M Hard palate 3 y 1 cm Surgical excision NA
8 Hornigold et al 0 F Parotid 2.5 mo 3 cm Superficial parotidectomy 2 y
9 Lin et al 67 F Floor of mouth 1 y 3 cm Surgical excision 2 y
10 Michaelidis et al 44 M Parotid 18 mo 3.5 cm Total parotidectomy 2 y
11 Sakai et al 60 F Hard palate 10 y 1.8 cm Surgical excision No evidence of disease
12 Walts and Perzik 48 M Parotid NA 3.5 cm Superficial parotidectomy No evidence of disease 13 Walts and Perzik 65 M Parotid 2 mo 2.6 cm Superficial parotidectomy No evidence of disease
14 Baker et al 44 M Parotid 2 mo 1 cm Superficial parotidectomy 30 mo
15 Fregnani et al NA NA Tongue NA NA Surgical excision No evidence of disease
16 Fregnani et al NA NA Buccal sulcus NA NA Surgical excision No evidence of disease
17 Ramer et al 84 F Buccal mucosa NA 1 cm Surgical excision 11 mo
18 Ramer et al 43 F Soft palate NA 2 cm Surgical excision NA
19 Parente et al 77 F Submandibular months 3 × 2 × 1.8 cm Surgical excision 22 mo
20 Ponniah et al 60 M Floor of mouth NA 2 cm NA 2 y
21 Kadivar et al 3 F Parotid 8 mo 3 cm Surgical excision NA
22 Bansal et al 11 M Parotid 11 y 7 × 7 cm Surgical excision 1 y
23 de Freitas et al 38 M Lower lip NA 1 cm Surgical excision NA
24 Okada et al 66 F Hard palate 10 y 1.2 × 1 × 1 cm Surgical excision NA
25 Jang et al 62 F Submandibular 3 y 5 cm Surgical excision 17 mo
26 Dogan et al 33 M Parotid 1 y 2 × 2 cm Surgical excision No evidence of disease
27 Present study 27 F Tongue 5 y 1 cm Surgical excision 1.5 mo
28 Present study 73 F Floor of mouth NA 4 cm Surgical excision NA
29 Present study 65 F Buccal mucosa 2 y 2 cm Surgical excision NA
30 Present study 68 F Retromolar pad NA 0.9 cm Surgical excision 14 mo
NA indicates not available.
myxoid change in adipose tissue, all of these features were observed in the present cases.
There are reports of sialolipomas encircling small nerve bundles, particularly sialolipomas affecting the major salivary glands [5,7]. According to Michaelidis et al , this finding may suggest either a more aggressive mode of growth of these tumors than that attributed to ordinary lipomas or, alternatively, a multicentric proliferation of adipose tissue, ultimately entrapping interstitial normal structures. The latter hypothesis was based on the demon- stration of fatty degeneration of the gland by fine-needle aspiration and biopsy.
Fregnani et al  reported increased expression of proliferating cell nuclear antigen in sialolipomas when compared with common lipomas, a finding suggesting faster growth of the former. However, in that study, neither sialolipomas nor conventional lipomas showed recurrence during the follow-up period. In view of the small number of cases reported so far, definitive conclusions regarding the biological behavior of sialolipomas cannot be drawn safely.
The microscopic differential diagnosis of sialolipoma should include lesions containing extensive adipose tissue, such as lipomatous pleomorphic adenoma, lipomatosis, and lipoadenoma[5,6,8,12,19,20]. Although adipose tissue can account for up to 90% of the tumor mass in lipomatous pleomorphic adenoma, the adenomatous tissue in these lesions shows typical features of pleomorphic adenoma, including ducts and sheets or strands of (dark-staining) epithelial cells.
Lipomatosis is a nonmalignant overgrowth of adipose tissue throughout the salivary gland parenchyma, resulting in the diffuse enlargement of the latter [5,20]. Although the exact pathophysiology of this condition is still unclear, lipomatosis has been associated with diabetes mellitus, liver cirrhosis, chronic alcoholism, malnutrition, and hormonal disturbances [5,20]. The presence of a fibrous capsule distinguishes sialolipomas from lipomatosis[4-8].
Well-circumscribed tumors with distinct adipose and glandular components, called adenolipomas or lipoade- nomas, have been described in the breast , thyroid , and skin. Although these terms imply that both glandular and adipose elements are neoplastic, this is not necessarily the case with lipoadenomas and adenolipomas found at various anatomical sites . These lesions consist of an admixture of mature fat cells and branching narrow epithelial tubules lined with columnar cells and supported by basal cells without myoepithelial differen- tiation . The lack of normal acinar structures in lipoadenomas [25,26] permits their differentiation from sialolipomas [5,8,9].
Some cases of sclerosing polycystic adenosis, a recently described entity, may present a prominent lipomatous stroma . According to Ramer et al , sclerosing polycystic adenosis should be included in the differential diagnosis of sialolipomas, particularly when sampling adequacy is less than optimal. In contrast to sclerosing polycystic adenosis,
no proliferation of ductal or acinar cells is observed in sialolipomas. In addition, none of the reported cases of sialolipoma showed cellular atypia in the glandular compo- nent, a finding observed in some cases of sclerosing polycystic adenosis.
Regarding the therapeutic management of sialolipomas, most of the tumors located in the parotid gland have been treated by superficial parotidectomy [3,5,10]. Simple surgical excision has been used in cases of minor salivary gland sialolipomas [5,6,8,9], similarly to the cases pre- sented here. Despite the lack of follow-up data in some cases (Table 1), no recurrence or malignant transformation has been reported so far.
In conclusion, sialolipoma is a rare histologic variant of lipoma, commonly observed in adults. When involving the minor salivary glands, these tumors show no preference for any site in the oral cavity and clinically suggest a salivary gland neoplasm. Although the diagnostic criteria and microscopic features of sialolipomas have been relatively well established, permitting the differential diagnosis with other important lesions and/or conditions, many aspects regarding the histopathogenesis of these tumors are still unclear. Thus, further studies regarding this newly recog- nized histologic variant of lipoma should be performed, particularly using molecular biology techniques.
 Fregnani ER, Pires FR, Falzoni R, et al. Lipomas of the oral cavity:
clinical findings, histological classification and proliferative activity of 46 cases. Int J Oral Maxillofac Surg 2003;32:49-53.
 Furlong MA, Fanburg-Smith JC, Childers ELB. Lipoma of the oral and maxillofacial region: site and subclassification of 125 cases. Oral Surg Oral Med Oral Pathol Oral Radiol Endod 2004;98:441-50.
 Hornigold R, Morgan PR, Pearce A, et al. Congenital sialolipoma of the parotid gland first reported case and review of the literature. Int J Pediatr Otorhinolaryngol 2005;69:429-34.
 Ponniah I, Lavanya N, SureshKumar P. Island of salivary gland in adipose tissue: a report of three cases. J Oral Pathol Med 2007;36:
 Nagao T, Sugano I, Ishida Y, et al. Sialolipoma: a report of seven cases of a new variant of salivary gland lipoma. Histopathol 2001;38:30-6.
 Ramer N, Lumerman HS, Ramer Y. Sialolipoma: report of two cases and review of the literature. Oral Surg Oral Med Oral Pathol Oral Radiol Endod 2007;104:809-13.
 Michaelidis IGA, Stefanopoulos PK, Sambaziotis D, et al. Sialolipoma of the parotid gland. J Craniomaxillofac Surg 2006;34:43-6.
 Sakai T, Iida S, Kishino M, et al. Sialolipoma of the hard palate. J Oral Pathol Med 2006;35:376-8.
 Lin Y-J, Lin L-M, Chen Y-K, et al. Sialolipoma of the floor of the mouth: a case report. Kaohsiung J med Sci 2004;20:410-4.
 Walts AE, Perzik SL. Lipomatous lesions of the parotid area. Arch Otolaryngol 1976;102:230-2.
 Baker SE, Jensen JL, Correll RW. Lipomas of the parotid gland. Oral Surg Oral Med Oral Pathol 1981;52:167-81.
 Parente P, Longobardi G, Bigotti G. Hamartomatous sialolipoma of the submandibular gland: case report. Br J Oral Maxillofac Surg 2008;46:599-600.
 Kadivar M, Shahzadi SZ, Javadi M. Sialolipoma of the parotid gland with diffuse sebaceous differentiation in a female child. Pediatr Dev Pathol 2007;10:138-41.
 Bansal B, Ramavat AS, Gupta S, et al. Congenital sialo- lipoma of parotid gland: a report of rare and recently des- cribed entity with review of literature. Pediatr Dev Pathol 2007;10:
 de Freitas MA, Freitas VS, deLima AA, et al. Intraoral lipomas: a study of 26 cases in a Brazilian population. Quintessence Int 2009;
 Okada H, Yokoyama M, Hara M, et al. Sialolipoma of the palate: a rare case and review of the literature. Oral Surg Oral Med Oral Pathol Oral Radiol Endod 2009;108:571-6.
 Jang YW, Kim SG, Pai H, et al. Sialolipoma: case report and review of 27 cases. Oral Maxillo fac Surg 2009;13:109-13.
 Dogan S, Can IH, Ünlü I, et al. Sialolipoma of the parotid gland.
J Cranio fac Surg 2009;20:847-8.
 Jin YT, Lian JD, Yan JJ, et al. Pleomorphic adenoma with extensive adipose content. Histopathol 1996;28:87-9.
 Saleh HA, Ram B, Harmse JL, et al. Lipomatosis of the minor salivary glands. J Laryngol Otol 1998;112:895-7.
 Seifert G, Donath K, Schäfer R. Lipomatous pleomorphic adenoma of the parotid gland: classification of lipomatous tissue in salivary glands.
Pathol Res Pract 1999;195:247-52.
 Dietrich CU, Pandis N, Anderson JA, et al. Chromosome abnormalities in adenolipomas of the breast; karyotypic evidence that the mesenchymal component constitutes the neoplastic parenchyma.
Cancer Genet Cytogenet 1994;72:146-50.
 Mizukami Y, Michigishi T, Nonomura A, et al. Adenolipoma of the thyroid gland. Pathol Int 1995;45:247-9.
 Hitchcock MG, Hurt MA, Santa Cruz DJ. Adenolipoma of the skin: a report of nine cases. J Am Acad Dermatol 1993;29:82-5.
 Daboin KP, Ochoa-Perez V, Luna MA. Adenolipomas of the head and neck: analysis of 6 cases. Ann Diag Pathol 2006;10:72-6.
 Hirokawa M, Bando Y, Tashiro T, et al. Parotid lipoadenoma with sclerotic and polycystic changes. Virchows Arch 2002;440:549-50.
 Gnepp DR, Wang LJ, Brandwein-Gensler M, et al. Sclerosing polycystic adenosis of the salivary gland: a report of 16 cases. Am J Surg Pathol 2006;30:154-64.