Complete laryngectomy; Partial laryngectomy
Laryngectomy is surgery to remove all or part of the larynx (voice box).
Laryngectomy is major surgery that is done in the hospital. Before surgery you will receive general anesthesia. You will be asleep and pain-free.
Total laryngectomy removes the whole larynx. Part of your pharynx may be taken out as well. Your pharynx is the mucous membrane-lined passage between your nasal passages and esophagus.
The surgeon may also do a tracheoesophageal puncture (TEP).
There are many less invasive surgeries to remove part of the larynx.
The surgery can take 5 to 9 hours.
Most often, laryngectomy is done to treat cancer of the larynx. It is also done to treat:
Risks for any surgery are:
Risks for this surgery are:
You will have medical visits and tests before you have surgery. Some of these are:
Always tell your health care provider:
During the days before your surgery:
On the day of your surgery:
You will need to stay in the hospital for several days after surgery.
After the procedure, you will be groggy and will not be able to speak. An oxygen mask will be on your stoma. It's important to keep your head raised, rest a lot, and move your legs from time to time to improve blood flow. Keeping blood moving reduces your risk of getting a blood clot.
You can use warm compresses to reduce pain around your incisions. You will get pain medicine.
You will receive nutrition through an IV (a tube that goes into a vein) and tube feedings. Tube feedings are given through a tube that goes through your nose and into your esophagus (feeding tube).
You may be allowed to swallow food as soon as 2 to 3 days after surgery. However, it is more common to wait 5 to 7 days after your surgery to start eating through your mouth. You may have a swallow study, in which an x-ray is taken while you drink contrast material. This is done to make sure there is no leakage prior to starting to eat.
Your drain may be removed in 2 to 3 days. You will be taught how to care for your laryngectomy tube and stoma. You will learn how to safely shower. You must be careful not to let water enter through your stoma.
Speech rehabilitation with a speech therapist will help you relearn how to speak.
You will need to avoid heavy lifting or strenuous activity for about 6 weeks. You may slowly resume your normal, light activities.
Follow up with your provider as you are told.
Your wounds will take about 2 to 3 weeks to heal. You can expect full recovery in about a month. Many times, removal of the larynx will take out all the cancer or injured material. People learn how to change their lifestyle and live without their voice box. You may need other treatments, such as radiotherapy or chemotherapy. About 2 weeks after the procedure, you will most likely be able to return to an oral diet. You also may start working with a speech therapist to develop speech.
Rassekh H, Haughey BH. Total Laryngectomy and laryngopharyngectomy. In: Flint PW, Francis HW, Haughey BH, et al, eds. Cummings Otolaryngology: Head and Neck Surgery. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 109.
Shah JP, Patel SG, Sing B, Wong RJ. Larnyx and trachea. In: Shah JP, Patel SG, Sing B, Wong RJ, eds. Jatin Shah's Head and Neck Surgery and Oncology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 10.
Yarbrough WG, Zanation A, Patel S, Mehra S. Head and neck. In: Townsend CM Jr, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery. 21st ed. St Louis, MO: Elsevier; 2022:chap 34.BACK TO TOP
Review Date: 2/1/2021
Reviewed By: Josef Shargorodsky, MD, MPH, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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