What is laryngectomy?
Laryngectomy is the removal of a portion or all of the voice box. The larynx, which is also called the speech box, has different roles. Its principal function is to allow air to enter and leave the lungs. The larynx also acts to prevent food, liquids and saliva from falling into the lungs, which can cause pneumonia.
How is laryngectomy performed?
A partial laryngectomy can be used for the treatment of some laryngeal cancers. The procedure involves surgically extracting the part of the larynx that has been infected. Many of your vocal cords will be left in place, and you will still be able to speak, but your voice may be bulky or low. While your larynx heals, you might find it difficult to breathe. Your surgeon may need to make a temporary hole in your neck, which connects to a tube through which you can breathe. This is called transient tracheostomy. Once your larynx has healed, you can remove the tube, leaving a small scar.
Total laryngectomy is used to treat advanced laryngeal cancer. The treatment includes removing the entire larynx. You may also need to remove nearby lymph nodes, if the cancer has spread to them. You will not be able to talk in the normal way because your vocal cords will be cut. There are also varieties of ways to help recover your voice. When you have complete laryngectomy, your surgeon may also make a permanent hole in your neck, called a stoma, to help you breathe. Training will be given on how to keep your stoma clean. At first, getting a stoma may seem overwhelming and scary, but after a few months, most people get accustomed to it.
What are the side effects of laryngectomy?
- Lose the ability to speak normally.
- Difficulty breathing.
- Affect your ability to swallow.
- Development of a fistula