Laryngectomy

Care After

Refer to this sheet in the next few weeks. These instructions provide you with information on caring for yourself after your procedure. Your caregiver may also give you more specific instructions. Your treatment has been planned according to current medical practices, but problems sometimes occur. Call your caregiver if you have any problems or questions after your procedure.

After your voice box (larynx) is removed, your windpipe (trachea) is stitched (sutured) to the skin around the hole through which your larynx was removed. You will breathe through this hole (stoma). A plastic tube will be inserted in your stoma to keep it open while it heals. At first, you will have a bandage (dressing) around your neck. You also will have a small plastic container, shaped like a bulb, attached to your neck. The bulb can be squeezed to create a suction to drain fluid from your wound. You will have a tube from your nose into the stomach (nasogastric tube) to allow your caregiver to feed your during the early stage of healing (usually 7 to 10 days). This tube usually is removed before you leave the hospital. If you are sent home before the tube is removed, your caregiver will give you instructions on how to care for it and when to return to have it removed.

HOME CARE INSTUCTIONS

  • Only take medicine your caregiver prescribes. This may include pain medicine and antibiotic medicine. Follow the directions carefully. Do not take over-the-counter pain medicine unless your caregiver says it is okay. Some medicines, like aspirin or ibuprofen, can cause bleeding after a surgery.

  • Do not drive if you are taking narcotic pain medicine. These are very strong drugs.

  • Check your incision site every day. Call your surgeon if it looks red, bleeds, or swells. It should take 2 to 3 weeks for the incision to fully heal.

  • Know how to care for your stoma. Ask your caregiver if you have any questions about care for this area.

  • Keep water out of the stoma. At first, take a bath only in shallow water. Do not take a shower until your caregiver says it is okay. When you are able to shower, put a waterproof cover over your stoma. Do not go swimming.

  • Ask your caregiver about stoma covers. These are worn over your stoma to warm, moisten, and filter the air that you breathe.

  • Once your feeding tube has been removed and you are able to swallow liquids, you may slowly begin to eat soft foods. You can eat other foods once the muscles that help you swallow are working well enough to swallow more solid food.

  • You will need to learn an alternative way to communicate. There are some options for producing speech without the use of a larynx. These options include:

  • A voice prosthesis. A voice prosthesis is a device that is placed inside your throat to help you to produce speech. It is placed in your throat during the laryngectomy.

  • An electronic device that can help you produce words (electrolarynx).

  • Producing words through your esophagus (esophageal speech). Your caregiver can refer you to a speech therapist to learn this technique.

SEEK MEDICAL CARE IF:

  • You have problems with your stoma.

  • You have a voice prosthesis and you have problems with it.

  • You have pain that does not go away, even after taking pain medicine.

  • You have difficulty swallowing or feel pain when you swallow.

SEEK IMMEDIATE MEDICAL CARE IF:

  • Your incision site becomes red and swollen or it bleeds.

  • A lot of fluid leaks from your stoma. (If this occurs, do not put anything in your mouth until you see your caregiver.)

  • You cannot swallow.

  • You hear noise coming from your airway when you breathe.

  • There is a narrowing of your stoma.

  • You have severe crusting around your stoma.