A Patientís Ability to Taste Is Restored Within Two Weeks
She devoured sausage, eggs, cereal and toast, finishing everything on her plate, yet tasting nothing.
So began another day for the 56-year-old New Rochelle, New York, woman who suffered from sialoadenitis, a salivary gland inflammation that robbed her of virtually all of her ability to taste, making her so desperate that she sometimes resorted to pouring massive amounts of salt, pepper and garlic on virtually everything she ate. Sialoadenitis, which constitutes about half of all major salivary gland disease, occurs when saliva cannot exit the ducts, causing pain and swelling that can be particularly acute when the patient eats. In this womanís case, sialoadenitis began developing after a childhood infection left scar tissue obstructing her ducts.
With her condition worsening and surgeons advising her to have the gland removed, the womanís hopes for a recovery faded until last year, when she was referred to NYUCD for treatment by Clinical Assistant Professor of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Dr. Michael Turner. Dr. Turner is one of only a handful of surgeons in the United States who are performing minimally invasive diagnosis and treatment for sialoadenitis. Using a specially designed, FDA-approved, endoscope developed by his mentor, Dr. Oded Nahlieli, a Professor of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery at Israelís Hebrew University, Dr. Turner was able to pinpoint the womanís inflammation and then apply hydrostatic pressure through a balloon to break up the scar tissue obstructing her ducts. Within two weeks, the woman regained her ability to taste without the scarring and prolonged recovery common to patients who have had glands removed.
"This is a new paradigm for treating salivary gland disease," said Dr. Turner, adding that he hopes to incorporate instruction in the procedure into the curriculum for residents in the Advanced Education Program in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery.