This is surgery to remove the larynx, also known as the voice box. This is usually done to treat cancer. Depending on the extent of the cancer, a partial laryngectomy may be possible.
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Laryngectomy is done to treat cancer of the larynx. This surgery may also be done to treat damage of the larynx due to trauma.
If you are planning to have laryngectomy, your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:
Some factors that may increase the risk of complications include:
Be sure to discuss these risks with your doctor before the surgery.
Your doctor may do the following:
Leading up to your surgery:
General anesthesia will be used. It will block any pain and keep you asleep through the surgery. It is given through an IV.
A cut will be made in the skin on your neck. The muscles that are attached to the larynx will be divided. The larynx and surrounding tissue will then be removed. Sometimes, a partial laryngectomy will be done. In this case, the doctor will remove the tumor and only part of the larynx. If you have this type of surgery, you may retain some normal speech and more of your normal swallowing function.
An opening called a stoma will be created through the skin in the neck. Next, the trachea will be connected to the opening. This will enable you to breathe through the hole. In some cases, a tracheostomy tube will be inserted. This tube, which fits into the stoma, will act as an airway, helping you to breathe. Drainage tubes will be inserted to drain blood and fluid. Lastly, the muscles and skin will be brought together and closed with stitches or clips.
You will have pain while recovering, but you will be given pain medication.
This surgery is done in a hospital setting. The usual length of stay is 7-14 days. Your doctor may choose to keep you longer if complications arise.
While you are recovering at the hospital, you will:
When you return home, do the following to help ensure a smooth recovery:
The throat tissue will heal in about 2-3 weeks. Complete recovery will take about a month. You may notice a reduction in your sense of taste and smell. You will continue to use the stoma for breathing.
Most patients are able to return to their jobs and past activities, except for swimming. Ask your doctor about when it is safe to shower, bathe, or soak in water.
Joining a support group may help you to cope with the surgery.
After you leave the hospital, contact your doctor if any of the following occurs:
In case of an emergency, call for medical help right away.
American Cancer Society
National Cancer Institute
BC Cancer Agency
Canadian Cancer Society
Laryngeal and hypopharyngeal cancer. American Cancer Society website. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/cancer/laryngealandhypopharyngealcancer/index. Accessed July 23, 2013.
Laryngectomy. UC Davis Health System website. Available at: http://www.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu/otolaryngology/Health%20Information/LARYNGECTOMY.pdf. Accessed July 23, 2013.
Treating laryngeal and hypopharyngeal cancers. American Cancer Society website. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/cancer/laryngealandhypopharyngealcancer/detailedguide/laryngeal-and-hypopharyngeal-cancer-treating-surgery. Updated January 18, 2013. Accessed July 23, 2013.
Last reviewed July 2013 by Marcin Chwistek, MD; Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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