Chronic Dry Mouth Cured with One Surgery | News | Loyola Medicine
Friday, November 11, 2016

Chronic Dry Mouth Cured with One Simple Surgery at Loyola

MAYWOOD, IL –  For almost a decade, Gary Hackney suffered from painfully debilitating dry mouth caused by treatment for stage IV thyroid cancer. He was taking more than 20 medications per day to treat dry mouth until he met with Carol Bier-Laning, MD, a head and neck surgeon at Loyola Medicine.

“I could hardly talk and I always had to have something to drink because my mouth was completely dry. And I mean extremely dry,“ said Mr. Hackney, of McHenry, Illinois. “It was incredibly painful.”

Dr. Bier-Laning knew she could help. “Mr. Hackney had previously had a surgery to remove his thyroid. He then had radioactive iodine treatments which caused him to suffer from an incredibly dry mouth,” she said. “He was taking multiple medications and multiple pills daily to treat that condition and I knew he was a good candidate for salivary endoscopic surgery.”

Watch Mr. Hackney's story.

Salivary endoscopy surgery uses tiny scopes that go in through the natural openings of the saliva ducts in the mouth. “Essentially, we irrigated out the glands,” Dr. Bier-Laning said of the outpatient procedure. “Mr. Hackney was able to go home just a few hours after the surgery.”

Called xerostomia, dry mouth is characterized by an unusually dry mouth due to a lack of saliva, or spit. Without saliva, basic functions such as chewing, eating, swallowing and talking are difficult.

"You never realize how important it is to have saliva until your body can’t make any,” Mr. Hackney said. “I couldn't even swallow once without the aid of more than 20 medications I was taking daily.”

Dr. Bier-Laning surgically corrected his salivary gland disorder, restoring natural moistness and saving him thousands of dollars per year in prescription costs.

Mr. Hackney saw results immediately. “The procedure was basically pain-free and I quit taking my daily 20 – 25 pills automatically,” he said. “I have moisture in my mouth all the time and can swallow. I wish I had known about it years ago because I would have had the surgery much sooner.”

Loyola Medicine’s experienced otolaryngologists and head and neck surgeons treat a variety of problems of the ear, nose, throat, head and neck—including thyroid and salivary gland disorders, sinus and skull base disorders and head and neck cancers. Loyola otolaryngologists and head and neck surgeons are fellowship-trained and work as part of a clinically integrated care team, partnering with audiologists, neurosurgeons, speech therapists and other specialists to provide state-of-the-art surgical techniques and minimally invasive approaches for many types of surgery. 
“To see Mr. Hackney’s success makes me really feel happy that I was able to have such an impact on his life,” Dr. Bier-Laning said.

About Loyola University Health System

Loyola University Health System (LUHS) is a member of Trinity Health. Based in the western suburbs of Chicago, LUHS is a quaternary care system that includes Loyola University Medical Center (LUMC), located on a 61-acre campus in Maywood, Gottlieb Memorial Hospital (GMH), on a 36-acre campus in Melrose Park, and convenient locations offering primary and specialty care services throughout Cook, Will and DuPage counties. At the heart of LUMC is a 547-licensed-bed hospital that houses the Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine, the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, a Level 1 trauma center, a burn center, a children's hospital, Loyola Outpatient Center, and Loyola Oral Health Center. The campus also is home to Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, Loyola University Chicago Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and the Loyola Center for Fitness. The GMH campus includes a 254-licensed-bed community hospital, a Professional Office Building with 150 private practice clinics, an adult day care program, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, the Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park.

Trinity Health is one of the largest multi-institutional Catholic health care delivery systems in the nation. It serves people and communities in 22 states from coast to coast with 93 hospitals, and 120 continuing care locations — including home care, hospice, PACE and senior living facilities — that provide nearly 2.5 million visits annually.