Patients with cerebral palsy who experience drooling are often isolated from social interaction. Surgical treatment is effective in reducing abnormal, profuse drooling in patients who have low cognitive function, but it has a risk of complications. In this study, a new, simple procedure using laser intervention that minimizes surgical complications is described. Forty-eight patients with cerebral palsy and persistent drooling after more than 6 months of conservative treatment were enrolled in this study. An Nd:YAG laser (1064 nm) was used for intraductal laser photocoagulation of the bilateral parotid ducts at 7 to 10 W for 10 seconds. The outcome was evaluated by questionnaire-based, semiquantitative assessments of drooling severity and frequency, collection and measurement of stimulated saliva, and salivary amylase measurement. The entire procedure was completed in 25 to 65 minutes, with a mean duration of 38.4 minutes. Early complications included transient facial swelling in all patients. Swelling persisted for 6 to 37 days (mean, 11 days). One hematoma (2.1 percent of patients), two infections (4.2 percent of patients), and two cystic formations (4.2 percent of patients) also occurred. No obvious xerostomia or visible scar was noted after the procedure. In the final assessment, a significant improvement in drooling severity (p < 0.05) and frequency (p < 0.05) was noted in the majority of cases. Forty patients (83.3 percent) demonstrated remarkable improvement in drooling severity, seven patients (14.6 percent) showed significant improvement, and one patient (2.1 percent), who was also autistic, continued to experience severe drooling after the laser procedure. The decrease in the amount of saliva produced ranged from 20 to 60 percent at 12 weeks after surgery. The decrease in the amount of salivary amylase measured ranged from 4 to 97 percent at 12 weeks after surgery (p < 0.05). In conclusion, the intraductal laser photocoagulation of bilateral parotid ducts is a simple, effective procedure for reducing drooling in patients who have cerebral palsy. This procedure minimizes risks and complications, compared with those associated with conventional surgery.
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