Description of the Procedure
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.
At the Hospital
While you are recovering at the hospital, you will:
- Have an oxygen mask over the stoma.
- Be given nutrition through an IV or a feeding tube. A speech pathologist or doctor will assess your ability to swallow. Depending on the results, you will progress to soft foods.
- You may need to wear boots or special socks to help prevent blood clot formation in your legs
Be instructed to:
- Use a call bell and message board to communicate.
- Keep the head of your bed raised.
- Move your legs while in bed to increase circulation.
Learn to care for your stoma and tracheostomy tube, which includes:
- Using a mist hood over the stoma
- Keeping water out of the stoma
- Covering the stoma with a shower hood when showering
- Suctioning secretions
- Have the drains removed in about five days. The stitches will be removed in about one week.
When you return home, do the following to help ensure a smooth recovery:
- For about 6 weeks, avoid lifting heavy objects and doing strenuous activity.
Participate in a speech rehabilitation program. You will need to learn how to speak again. The program may involve speaking by:
- Swallowing air and expelling it—esophageal speech
- Using an electronic device—artificial larynx
- Installing a valve in the stoma to allow air from the lungs to reach the esophagus—tracheoesophageal speech
The throat tissue will heal in about 2-3 weeks. Complete recovery will take at least a month. You may notice a reduction in your sense of taste and smell. You will continue to use the stoma for breathing.
Most people 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.
may help you to cope with the surgery.