Director, Salivary Gland Center; Associate Dean, Clinical Professor, Division of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Columbia University College of Dental Medicine, New York, NY. Electronic address: [Email]
The lingual tonsil (LT), located at the base of the tongue posterior to the circumvallate papillae, consists of aggregates of lymphoid tissue separated by a median glossoepiglottic ligament that splits the LT into right and left halves. Tonsillar tissue on either side of the ligament exhibits discrete round nodules that project upward. Each prominence is covered by nonkeratinized epithelium and has a central crypt formed by an invagination of the overlying epithelium. Ducts of adjacent mucous glands empty into the crypt, serving as a flushing mechanism to cleanse the crypt. A thin fibrous connective tissue capsule isolates the LT from the underlying tongue musculature. Lingual tonsillar tissue tends to regress with aging. Hypertrophy and pathologic changes of the LT can develop and cause subjective symptomatology. Patient complaints include sore throats, dysphagia, globus sensation, dyspnea, obstructive sleep apnea, dysgeusia, halitosis, and otalgia. Tonsilloliths in the palatine tonsil are often reported, but the LT also can develop a tonsillolith. Only 1 report of LT tonsilloliths was found in the English-language dental literature. Because of its literary rarity, this report presents a case of an incidental finding of a lingual tonsillolith. Diagnostic skills are sharpened when such cases are brought to the attention of the profession.