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Alternative NamesComplete laryngectomy; Partial laryngectomy
Definition Return to top
Laryngectomy is surgery to remove the larynx (voice box) in your throat. All or part of the larynx may be removed in a laryngectomy.
Description Return to top
Total laryngectomy is major surgery that is done in the hospital. Before surgery you will receive general anesthesia. This will make you unconscious and unable to feel pain.
In a total laryngectomy, first your surgeon will make an incision (cut) in your neck to open up the area. Important parts of this surgery are:
There are many less invasive surgeries to remove part of the larynx.
Part of your pharynx may be removed in a total laryngectomy. Your pharynx is the tube air moves through from your nose. It connects with your larynx.
The surgery takes 5 to 9 hours.
Why the Procedure is Performed Return to top
Usually laryngectomy is done to treat cancer of the larynx. It is also done to treat:
Risks Return to top
Risks for any surgery are:
Risks for this surgery are:
Before the Procedure Return to top
You will have many doctor visits and medical tests before you have surgery. Some of these are:
Always tell your doctor or nurse:
During the days before your surgery:
On the day of your surgery:
After the Procedure Return to top
You will need to stay in the hospital for several days after surgery.
After the procedure, you will be groggy and will not be able to speak. An oxygen mask will be on your stoma. It’s important to keep your head raised, rest a lot, and move your legs from time to time to improve blood flow. Keeping blood moving reduces your risk of getting a blood clot.
You can use warm compresses to reduce pain around your incision. Your nurse will give you pain medicine.
You will receive nutrition through an IV (a tube that goes into a vein) and tube feedings. Tube feedings are given through a tube that goes through your stoma and into your esophagus (swallowing tube).
You may be allowed to swallow food as soon as 2 to 3 days after surgery. But, it is more common to wait 5 to 7 days after your surgery to start eating through your mouth.
Your trachea drain will be removed in 2 to 3 days. You will be taught how to care for your tracheostomy tube and stoma. You will learn how to safely shower or swim. You must be careful not to let water enter through your stoma.
Speech rehabilitation with a speech therapist will help you relearn how to speak.
You will need to avoid heavy lifting or strenuous activity for about 6 weeks. You may slowly resume your normal, light activities.
Follow up with your doctor as often as your doctor says you need to.
Outlook (Prognosis) Return to top
Your wounds will take about 2 to 3 weeks to heal. You can expect full recovery in about a month. Many times, removal of the larynx will take out all the cancer or injured material. People learn how to change their lifestyle and live without their voice box.
References Return to top
Rassekh H, Haughey BH. Total Laryngectomy and laryngopharyngectomy. In: Cummings CW, Flint PW, Haughey BH, et al, eds. Otolaryngology: Head & Neck Surgery. 4th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2005:chap 103.
Agrawal N, Goldberg D. Primary and Salvage Total Laryngectomy. Otolaryngologic Clinics of North America. August 2008;41(4).Update Date: 2/17/2009 Updated by: Paul B. Griggs, MD, Department of Ophthalmology, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle , WA . Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.