This is surgery to remove the voice box (larynx). In some cases, a partial laryngectomy may be possible.
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Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review possible problems such as:
Your chances of problems may be higher for:
You may have:
Leading up to your surgery, talk to your doctor about:
Eat a light meal the night before the surgery. Do not eat or drink anything after midnight.
General anesthesia will be used. You will be asleep.
A cut will be made in the skin on your 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 the tumor and only part of the voice box. If you have this, you may keep some normal speech or swallowing ability.
A tracheostomy will allow you to breathe during and after surgery. This is an opening (called a stoma) from the outside of your neck to your windpipe. A tube is placed into the stoma so you can breathe. Drainage tubes will be inserted to drain blood and fluid. Lastly, the muscles and skin closed with stitches or clips.
Anesthesia will prevent pain during surgery. Medicines will ease pain afterwards.
The usual length of stay is 7-14 days. Your doctor may choose to keep you longer if you have problems.
You may have:
To help you heal faster at home:
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.
You may be referred to a support group to help you to cope with the surgery.
Call your doctor if any of these occur:
If you think you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.
American Cancer Society
National Cancer Institute
Canadian Cancer Society
Hanasono MM, Lin D, Wax MK, Rosenthal EL. Closure of laryngectomy defects in the age of chemoradiation therapy. Head Neck. 2012;34(4):580-588.
Laryngeal and hypopharyngeal cancer. American Cancer Society website. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/laryngeal-and-hypopharyngeal-cancer.html. Accessed July 2, 2018.
Laryngectomy. Encyclopedia of Surgery website. Available at:
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Accessed July 2, 2018.
Treatment of head and neck cancer. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T901119/Treatment-of-head-and-neck-cancer . Updated January 26, 2018. Accessed July 2, 2018.
Last reviewed May 2018 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
Donald W. Buck II, MD
Last Updated: 7/2/2018