Patient’s story

Find information about what you can expect before, during, and after a total laryngectomy.

Heat moisture exchanger patient

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Total laryngectomy diagnosis


Before a total laryngectomy

The right decision in a tough situation

Receiving a cancer diagnosis can come as a surprise, but an important way to deal with this shock is to be well informed. Now that you have your diagnosis the decision to undergo a laryngectomy is the next step.

Depending on the stage of the cancer, a laryngectomy is removal of part or all of the larynx (voicebox). As expected, this procedure is life-changing and will impact the way you breathe, speak, swallow, smell, and taste. But there are devices and methods to replace the sound source for your voice and live your life with fewer limitations.

How do I deal with the diagnosis?

Laryngectomy stories

Morten reflects on his life before and after the total laryngectomy.

01 Pre-surgery

Blog post: Learn how to breathe after surgery

Blog post: Learn how to breathe after surgery

You may be wondering how a laryngectomy will affect your breathing.

The procedure redirects your windpipe to the hole in your neck so you will no longer be drawing air in through your mouth and nose as you always have. Instead, the air is inhaled and exhaled through your stoma.

Your lungs will operate as normal, but breathing through an open stoma causes the temperature and humidity in your lungs to drop. The lungs react to this by producing more mucus, meaning you will have to cough more. This means you will have to protect and humidify your lungs by wearing a Heat and Moisture Exchanger (HME).

Your new nose

Heat and Moisture Exchangers (HMEs) have been developed to compensate for the lost functions of your nose. An HME sits over the opening in your neck, and they help to reduce mucus production and coughing by humidifying and filtering the air you inhale and exha

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Laryngectomy surgery



What to expect before your surgery and how to prepare

After receiving the information that you will undergo surgery to remove your voice box, you may be feeling worried and uneasy. At this point, there are also many questions running through your mind. This is normal and is to be expected. The important thing to remember is why this surgery is necessary.

A good idea would be to write down all the questions you may have and take these to the hospital appointments, so you do not forget to ask the team. At this time, it is also important to speak to your family about your concerns, as well as your clinical support team as they are there to help you in any way they can.

The surgery might be your best option

Surgery stories

Sandra’s surgery story

02 Surgery

Blog post: I am going to have a total laryngectomy

Blog post: I am going to have a total laryngectomy

Preparing for laryngectomy
Your voice is a big part of your identity. It’s how you express your thoughts, feelings and ideas. A laryngectomy will change how you speak, but most people are able to regain their voice but in different ways.

Before your laryngectomy, your voice is produced by vocal cords that are located in your larynx/voice box.

Your vocal cords generate sound so you can speak.

When you breathe out, air passes through the vocal cords making them vibrate to produce sound. The sound moves into your mouth and is shaped into speech with your lips, teeth and tongue. A laryngectomy is removal of the larynx/voice box which includes the vocal cords. After surgery, your medical team can find a way to replace the sound source. Thankfully, there are several ways to do this.

There are three main options for replacing the sound source.

  • Using tracheoesophageal (TE) speech using a with a voice prosthesi
  • Speaking with an electrolarynx (EL)/artificial larynx
  • Using esophageal speech

Download a helpful list for your appointment

Click here

Tracheoesophageal speech using a voice prosthesis and esophageal speech

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Laryngectomy stoma



What to expect during your hospital stay post-surgery

After your surgery, you will remain in the hospital while you recover from the surgery and adapt to living with a neck stoma. During this time, you will receive information and support from a dedicated health professional who will guide you through the next steps. A laryngectomy can come as a surprise and normal activities such as eating, and drinking will be difficult in the beginning. As you remain in the hospital you will slowly adapt to these changes before you head home.

How to recover properly

Hospital stories

Sandra's hospital story

03 Hospital

Blog post: What is an HME and why would you need to wear one? 

Blog post: What is an HME and why would you need to wear one? 

If your doctor hasn’t already talked to you about an HME, make sure to ask them for information.  

By now you have most certainly come across the term HME. But you may not be entirely sure what it is. Firstly, HME stands for Heat and Moisture Exchanger and this is exactly how it operates. Since you no longer have the humidifying and filtering functions of your nose, an HME can be considered your new “nose”. It will mimic the function

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Speaking after laryngectomy


At home

What to expect on your return from the hospital

Once your time at the hospital is complete you will return home. Before leaving, you will be given material and products to help you with this transition, including a supportive app and a Coming Home kit to introduce you to the products that will help you cough less and breathe better.

You will be closely monitored while you are at home. Your speech therapist will be in close contact, and your surgeon will want you to attend a follow-up appointment at the hospital.

How to adjust to a new situation

Going home story

Sandra's going home story

04 At home

Blog post: When to change or replace your HME 

Blog post: When to change or replace your HME 

When do I change my HME

At this stage, you may have had an introduction of how to use an HME at hospital. When leaving the hospital you will receive a coming home kit that will include a number of HMEs and attachments to help you grow accustomed to wearing an HME.  

Your stoma lead directly to your lungs, so it is important to keep it covered with an HME. An HME must be replaced at least every 24 hours in order to maintain its effectiveness and to prevent the growth of microorganisms. 

How do I know when to change an HME 

HMEs are single-use devices that should be used once and always replaced at least every 24 hours. But there are times that you will need to remove and change the HME during the day. There is a range of HMEs for different situations and you will want to change your HME depending on the situation. 

However there are times when you will need to change your HME to ensure you get the best performance.  

Change your HME if it becomes clogged with mucus 

You should change your HME if mucus gets inside and clogs the foam. It is important

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Living without a larynx


Living with a Laryngectomy

Adjusting to life with a laryngectomy

Now that you are home after your surgery, you will be adapting to a new way of breathing, speaking and living. While a laryngectomy will lead to some major changes in the way you live, it is still possible to live a happy and fulfilled life.

After your total laryngectomy, you will breathe through a stoma in your neck. You will also no longer have vocal cords. Luckily, there are Heat and Moisture Exchangers designed to function as your upper airways used to, as well as proven ways to regain your voice.

So, now is the time to get back to living life. You can continue to be active by going for walks and exercising, socializing and doing most things you enjoyed before your surgery.

Final words of advice

Living well story

Laurent - My new routine
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