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08 March 2023


Laryngectomy Glossary

Aspiration – means you’re breathing foreign objects, such as food and drink, into your airways.

At the hospital:

Surgeon – This is the person who will carrying out the surgical procedure

Anesthetist – this is the person who will keep you asleep and pain free through and after your surgery

Speech therapist – will help you to regain your voice after surgery and will help with swallowing issues.

Clinical nurse – a nurse on the ward who will care for you before and after surgery

Dietitian – will work with you to ensure you receive adequate nutrition

Dentist – will make sure your teeth are in good condition before the surgery

Community nurse – will help and support you when you are discharged from hospital

Patient Ambassador – a person who has had a total laryngectomy who can answer some of your questions and describe their life after having the surgery

Clear Margins – The edge or border of the tissue removed in cancer surgery. The margin is described as negative or clean. When the pathologist finds no cancer cells at the edge of the tissue, this suggests that all the cancer has been removed.

Contact dermatitis – a skin rash caused by contact with a substance that irritates the skin

CT Scan – computerised tomography scan. This uses x-rays to create detailed pictures of the body

Dysphagia – difficulty or discomfort when swallowing

Endoscopic laser surgery – a treatment for cancer in the early stages. A rigid tube is inserted into the throat and the laser is directed very accurately at the tumour

ENT – ear, nose and throat doctor

Electrolarynx – a battery operated device which can be used to help you speak

Enteral Feeding – nutrition given via a tube directly into the stomach Histology – is the study of the microscopic structure (microanatomy) of cells and tissues.

Humidification – this is normally carried out naturally by the nose. Immediately after your surgery this may need to be given via a machine. Humidity is important to avoid drying out of the airways

Intravenous fluids – fluid given via a tube into a vein to keep you hydrated until you can drink

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Laryngectomee – a person who has had their voice box removed usually due to cancer

Larynx – voice box

Lymphedema – tissue swelling caused by a blockage or drainage difficulties in the lymph system

Lymph Nodes – small structures that are part of the body’s immune system and act as filters

Lymphoedema nurse specialist – a nurse who provides specialist treatment for lymphoedema. This is usually a massage.

Multidisciplinary team – a group of medical professionals who work with you. They give their opinions and use their skills to ensure the best outcome for you.

Nasogastric Tube – a thin tube passed via the nose into the stomach to allow liquid food to be given until you can eat solid food again.

Nebuliser – a machine that helps you to breathe in medicine as a fine mist through a mask over your stoma. You may need this after surgery.

Nurse Specialist – an experienced nurse who specialises in head and neck cancer.

Occupational Therapist – will work with you so that you can carry on with your daily activities once you return home.

Oesophagus – is the food pipe. The muscular tube through which food passes from the throat to the stomach.

Otolaryngologist – a doctor or surgeon who specialises in disorders of the voice, upper airway and swallowing. They also specialise in head and neck cancer.

Otolaryngology – medical and surgical management of conditions of the head and neck.

Oxygen Therapy – given via a mask over your stoma to help you breathe and maintain normal oxygen levels.

PET Scan – positron emission tomography scan. This scan utilises a radioactive glucose solution to identify cancer cells in the body

Physiotherapist – will work with you on strengthening your muscles and helping you to cough effectively.

Radiotherapy – the use of high energy x-rays to destroy cancer cells in a specific area.

Suction – the removal of mucus via a tube connected to a machine. This is used after surgery if you cannot cough properly.

Squamous cell carcinoma – The most common cancer of the larynx.

Staging – the process of determining the extent to which the cancer has spread.

Stoma – The hole in your neck is known as a stoma and is made in the front of your neck to allow you to breathe. Air is redirected to the stoma when you breathe in and out.

Trachea – is the windpipe. The trachea is a tube-like structure within the neck and upper chest. It transports air to and from the lungs when a person breathes.

Tracheoesophageal puncture. (TEP) – is the surgical creation of a connection between the oesophagus and the trachea to allow for speech after a total laryngectomy.

Videofluoroscopy – an x-ray that records the person swallowing and identifies problems such aspiration.

Voice Prosthesis – a valve which allows you to make sounds by passing air from your lungs through the valve and into your mouth.

Wound Drain – a tube inserted into the wound in theatre to help drain extra fluid.


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