Laryngectomy Aftercare

Laryngectomy Rehabilitation

A total laryngectomy is a surgery to remove the larynx (“voice box”) in its entirety, which includes the voice folds. Since the vocal folds are removed, a new method of communication is required. There is also a change in respiration, as the airway is no longer connected to the mouth and nose, and breathing now occurs through a hole in the throat called a stoma.

Laryngectomy Counseling and Care

At Wake Forest Baptist, our speech-language pathologists (SLPs) provide laryngectomy pre-operative counseling, care assessment during post-operative hospital stay, and ongoing management at discharge.

During pre-operative counseling, we discuss the physiological and anatomical changes regarding speech, swallowing and respiration following a total laryngectomy, and options for communication without a voice box. Family members and friends are encouraged to attend to answer any questions they may have.

While in the hospital, the SLP will follow up with the patient. We offer a visit from a member of our local laryngectomy club to offer further support. We will also initiate electrolarynx training at the physician’s discretion. Following hospitalization, SLPs help patients find the most optimal form of communication and assist with continued stoma care and management.

Communicating After a Laryngectomy

There are three common options for communication following a laryngectomy surgery:

  • Electrolarynx (also known as artificial larynx)
    Electolarynx is an electronic device that acts as a separate sound source. Voicing is achieved either by placement against the neck or with a straw in the mouth. SLPs will train the patient in the appropriate placement and utilization of the device. An electrolarynx is typically the most common form of communication immediately following laryngectomy surgery.

  • Esophogeal Speech
    This is a method of speech in which you learn to swallow air into your esophagus (food tube) and release it back into the throat like a belch. The expelled air causes the muscles of the throat to vibrate to form a sound source. This method does not require any instrumentation.

  • TEP Speech
    TEP (tracheoesophageal prosthesis) speech requires the creation of a tract between the breathing tube (trachea) and the food tube (esophagus) by the physician. A small prosthesis is placed in this tract to allow air to travel from the trachea to the esophagus, causing the muscles of the throat to vibrate as a sound source. Both an SLP and a physician will help determine if this is an appropriate method of communication.

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Last Updated: 08-28-2014
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Disclaimer: The information on this website is for general informational purposes only and SHOULD NOT be relied upon as a substitute for sound professional medical advice, evaluation or care from your physician or other qualified health care provider.