A total laryngectomy is an operation to remove the larynx. The larynx, or voice box, is the organ that produces the sound that allows us to speak. The vocal cords are located in the larynx. The larynx also helps to prevent food from entering the air passage.
A person with cancer of the larynx is a candidate for this procedure.
A laryngectomy is done through an incision in the neck. The larynx is removed. Air can no longer pass from the lungs into the mouth, because the connection between the mouth and the windpipe no longer exists. Therefore, a new opening for air to enter the lungs must be made in the front of the neck.
The upper portion of the trachea, or windpipe, is brought out to the front of the neck to create a permanent opening. This opening is called a stoma. A tracheostomy tube can be placed in the stoma to keep it open until it heals. Often, an operation called a radical neck dissection is done at the same time as a laryngectomy. This is done to remove the lymph nodes in the neck, to which cancer may have spread.
Following the completion of the the surgery, a "speech prosthesis" such as a Blom-Singer Valve may be placed between the upper end of the trachea and the esophagus so that a form of oral speech is possible.
Professional Guide to Diseases, Springhouse Corporation, 1998
Laryngectomy, [hyperLink url="http://www.nhlung.org/laryngectomy.htm" linkTitle="www.nhlung.org/laryngectomy.htm"]www.nhlung.org/laryngectomy.htm[/hyperLink]
Instructions for Patients, Griffith, 1994