by Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
A laryngectomy is a full or partial removal of the voice box (larynx).
Reasons for Procedure
Problems are rare, but all procedures have some risk. The doctor will go over some problems that could happen, such as:
Things that may raise the risk of problems are:
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
The surgical team may meet with you to talk about:
General anesthesia will be used. You will be asleep.
Description of the Procedure
An incision will be made in the skin on the neck. The muscles that are attached to the voice box will be separated. The voice box and tissue around it will be removed.
A partial laryngectomy may be done. The doctor will remove only part of the voice box. This will allow for some normal speech and swallowing.
An opening called a stoma will be made from the outside of the neck to the windpipe. This is called a tracheostomy. It will allow for breathing.
Drainage tubes will be inserted to drain blood and fluid. The incisions will be closed. Bandages will be placed over the area.
How Long Will It Take?
5 to 9 hours
Will It Hurt?
Pain and swelling are common in the first 1 to 2 weeks. Medicine and home care can help.
Average Hospital Stay
The usual length of stay is 7 to 14 days. You may need to stay longer if you have problems.
At the Hospital
Right after the procedure, the staff may:
During your stay, the hospital staff will take steps to lower your risk of infection, such as:
There are also steps you can take to lower your risk of infection, such as:
It will take about a month to recover. Physical activity will be limited during recovery. You will need to ask for help with daily activities and delay return to work.
Call Your Doctor
Call your doctor if you are not getting better or you have:
If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.
American Cancer Society
National Cancer Institute
Chow LQM. Head and Neck Cancer. N Engl J Med. 2020 Jan 2;382(1):60-72.
Laryngeal and hypopharyngeal cancer. American Cancer Society website. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/laryngeal-and-hypopharyngeal-cancer.html. Accessed December 7, 2020.
Management of head and neck cancer—based on cancer site. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/management/management-of-head-and-neck-cancer-based-on-cancer-site. Accessed December 7, 2020.
Last reviewed September 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Marcin Chwistek, MD