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The doctor may have found a new organ in the middle of your head


The human body never stops being surprised.

Over 160 years ago, Dr. Henry Gray, author of Gray’s Anatomy, edited the most comprehensive text on the human body. Still, after dozens of revisions and new editions, doctors are still discovering how we are built.

One such finding by researchers at the Dutch Cancer Institute shows a potential fourth set of salivary glands in the space where the nasal cavity meets the throat.

If new organs are confirmed, it will be the first time in about 3 centuries, Reported Times..

Previously, doctors understood that there were only three sets of salivary glands. That is, near each ear, under the chin, under the tongue.

Evidence of previously unidentified organs was released last month Journal Radiation Therapy and OncologyDespite the fact that the author and surgeon of the study, Dr. Matthijs Valstar, embarked on a study of prostate cancer.

He and his colleagues discovered an unfamiliar part while studying their own detailed headscans. In the center of the scanned skull were two narrow tissue structures directly above the Eustachian tube, which connects the Eustachian tube to the throat.

Matthijs H. Valstarab et al.

Further studies using dissected corpses revealed that the pair of organs were structurally similar to the salivary glands under the tongue. They also appeared to be connected to the tubing, suggesting saliva flow.

“The location is so inaccessible that we need a very sensitive image to detect it,” said Dr. Wouter Vogel, a radiation oncologist who co-authored the study.

Dr. Vogel also pointed to anecdotal evidence from patients with brain tumors who are known to suffer from chronic thirst after radiation therapy. Doctors explain that salivary glands are a very delicate tissue and are usually avoided during cancer treatment to prevent permanent damage. Not knowing that these glands exist, “no one spared them,” Vogel said.

Brain CT scan
Matthijs H. Valstarab et al.

However, some of their peers are hesitant to label them as real organs. Dr. Alvand Hassankhani, a radiologist at the University of Pennsylvania who was not involved in the study, pointed out that the salivary gland network is composed of about 1,000 “minor” glands. He suggested to the Times that new imaging technologies might have come up with better ways to detect them instead.


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