What is the prognosis of mucocele and ranula?

Updated: Oct 19, 2020
  • Author: Catherine M Flaitz, DDS, MS; Chief Editor: Jeff Burgess, DDS, MSD  more...
  • Print

Mucoceles tend to be relatively painless or asymptomatic lesions with little or no associated morbidity or mortality. Depending on the size and location, some mucoceles may interfere with normal mastication.

Oral and plunging ranulas, if large, may affect swallowing, speech, or mastication and may result in airway obstruction. The very rare thoracic ranula may compromise respiratory function and may be life threatening. [13]

If adequate and complete surgical excision is accomplished, the patient should expect no recurrence of mucoceles. If the adjacent minor salivary glands are not removed or are transected, the risk for recurrence increases. In the case of the anterior lingual mucocele, the offending glands of Blandin and Nuhn are deep within the musculature of the tongue and require knowledge of tongue anatomy and adequate resection to prevent recurrences. In recent pediatric studies, the recurrence rates range from approximately 6-8% following surgery. [14, 15] In a small clinical study involving children, the recurrence rates for surgical excision verus carbon dioxide laser vaporization were very similar, 5.88% and 6.67%, respectively. [15]

Superficial mucoceles are likely to recur periodically, and new lesions may develop over time.

Surgical therapy for oral ranulas may result in the creation of cervical ranulas. As noted previously, almost one half of cervical ranulas are those occurring after surgical attempts to eliminate oral ranulas. When these lesions are managed by marsupialization alone, the recurrence rate is high. Lesions usually develop 6-8 weeks after surgery, but recurrences may be found as late as 12 months.

With adequate surgical excision, mucus retention cysts are not likely to recur.

Did this answer your question?
Additional feedback? (Optional)
Thank you for your feedback!