INTRODUCTION There are a number of important issues to address in patients with tumours of the major salivary glands. Accurate and rapid pre-operative diagnosis is imperative, in order to diagnose malignancy. There is some controversy in the choice of correct operation of the commonest type and location of tumour: a pleomorphic adenoma of the parotid gland. The anatomical relationship of a tumour to the facial nerve (or branch) in the parotid gland is nearly always intimate and the potential for a catastrophic cosmetic handicap can make surgery challenging. In is interesting to observe that, whist there has been a great deal of commentary regarding adequate workload in, for example, thyroid surgery, there has been almost none regarding parotid surgery; and yet the consequences of suboptimal surgery that includes incomplete tumour resection and facial palsy are potentially catastrophic for the patient.