Looking for ideas to saliva issues - opening under chin

Hi all!  My father had surgery for Esophageal Cancer this summer, please excuse my non-techinical terms but I want to make this as clear as I can so I am understood :)

 He had a total laryngectomy and the plan was to remove the larynx and the cancer ridden esophagus in the upper throat and replace the esophagus w/ a piece of intestine.  The surgery worked like a charm for the first few days, then the transplant failed and he had to have emergency surgery to save his life.

Unfortunatly, the doctors were only able to save him by totally and permanently closing off what remained of his esophagus and then permanently closing off the back of his throat and creating a hole under his chin for saliva drainage.

The good news is since all this happened in July he is totally healed from the surgery and the doctors are 99.9% sure all the cancer is gone.  He is having a scan right after the 1st of the year to confirm this.  He is doing well w/ his oral EL and getting back his regular routine as much as possible.

The problem is saliva management.  He is constantly battling the saliva that runs out the hole they made under his chin.  The fact that what they had to do for his case is quite uncommon is where we are running into issues.  We are thinking outside the box for a way to collect the saliva so he says more comfortable.  My mother fashioned up a little bib for him which works, but has to be changed every 30 minutes or so.  It's irritating to him and we are hoping to get some ideas for a better system.  The doctors don't think a gastric pull up is in the cards so we are looking at ways to make this more livable.

I am hoping we can find someone else who has had this issue and brainstorm a saliva collection device.

Of course b/c of what has happened, he is on a permanent peg tube.  If we could figure out a device to hook up to a collection bag - I am thinking something like a funnel attached to a bag to attach to the opening in his chin....not only could he have better saliva management, but it might let him eat (for pleasure only) a bit too.  Right now he sips on water, beer and white wine and spits into a glass.  If he could cover the hole somehow - it would open up a wider amount of things he could taste.

Anyone else have a similar issue or know of someone who does?  I am going to go through all the form messages and also cross post this in Esophageal Cancers.  I thought that both forms might bring some ideas.


  • wmc
    wmc Member Posts: 1,804
    Welcome to the H&N Group

    Welcome, but also sorry you need to be here. Your Father has gone through so much and it shows his character and will to fight. Mine was laryengeal cancer just above my vocal cords, and removed my larynx and did a neck dissection on both sides. Having esophagus cancer is much harder than throat cancer. I wish I had any advice that could help. There are many others that might have some sugestions that might help. I just wanted to welcome you and let you know you are not alone. Will keep you both in my thoughts and prayers.


  • Hondo
    Hondo Member Posts: 6,636 Member
    Hi LK

    I am NPC and don’t know much about your father condition, but if it was me I would find a way of putting duct tape over it. I am very inventive when it comes to getting around my problems.


    Welcome to CSN H&N


  • Ladylacy
    Ladylacy Member Posts: 773 Member
    Your father

    When you talk of a hole under his chin, is this a second hole in the neck?  My husband had a complete laryngectomy and he had to breathe thru a hole in his neck called a stoma which went directly into his lungs.  He had no saliva coming from it but had tons he spit out of his mouth daily.  I used to say we own the paper towel companies because he went thru them like crazy.  It finally eased up.  Where this was coming from we couldn't figure out since his throat was closed off.   His first round of radiation completely closed off his throat and it had to be reconstructed during his surgery.  Unfortunately one year later his head and neck specialist found a second primary at the cervical of his esophagus and ruled out surgery.  So he went thru more radiation and chemo in basically the same spot.  It didn't stop the cancer from returning and he lost his battle recently.  We were told that it was rare to get a second primary at the cervical of his esophagus.  Surgery, I think, was ruled out due to his previous radiation and surgery.  Sadly it had also spread to his right lung.  He had to live on a PEG tube until his passing.

    Wishing you and your family peace and comfort -- Sharon