Description of the Procedure
You will have a
to allow you to breathe during and after surgery. This creates an opening from the outside of your neck to your windpipe. A tube is inserted through the opening so that you can breathe. It is usually temporary.
If part of the tongue needs to be removed, the doctor will remove this cancerous section. The remaining area of the tongue will be sewn so that there is no hole. Sometimes, a small graft of skin will be used to fill the hole. This skin graft will then be sewn into place.
If the entire tongue needs to be removed, this is a more complicated surgery. The doctor will remove the diseased tongue. A piece of skin from your wrist will also be removed. This skin graft will be placed in the hole left by the tongue. Blood vessels will also be attached from any remaining tongue to the graft. This is to ensure blood flow. Sometimes the lymph nodes in the neck will also need to be removed.
At the Hospital
While recovering at the hospital, you may receive the following care:
- Oxygen through prongs attached to your nose for the first 1-2 days
- Nutrition through a tube—When you are able to swallow, you will be able to have drinks and pureed food. If a total glossectomy is done, you may need a permanent feeding tube in your stomach.
- Fluids and medicines will be given through an IV.
- Special boots or socks to help prevent blood clots—You will also be encouraged to get out of bed as soon as possible.
Instructions to breathe deeply and cough 10-20 times every hour for the first few days—This will decrease the risk of
In addition, your doctor may have you:
- Work with a speech therapist to learn to speak and swallow after surgery
to treat the cancer if it had not been given before
When you return home, do the following to help ensure a smooth recovery:
- Gargle several times a day to prevent infection.
- Take antibiotics as prescribed.
- Take pain medication to ease discomfort.
- Slowly resume your normal diet.
- Continue to work with a speech therapist.
- Be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions.