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Laryngeal surgery is a procedure to treat problems in the larynx or the voice box. It is usually recommended for people with laryngeal cancer, but it may also be performed for other conditions that develop in the larynx. There are three common types of laryngeal surgery: endoscopic resection, partial laryngectomy, and total laryngectomy.
All types of laryngeal surgery are carried out under general anesthetic, with endoscopic resection, your surgeon uses a special microscope to get a clear view of the larynx that allows them to remove cancer with small surgical instruments or a laser. With partial laryngectomy, your surgeon removes the affected part of your larynx, but some of your vocal cords are left in place, while with a total laryngectomy, your entire larynx is removed.
You may need to stay in an intensive care unit (ICU) for a day or two, and then get moved to a regular hospital room for a couple more days. The recommended length of stay is around 2 weeks or until your surgeon allows you to travel long distances.
The recovery for laryngeal surgery can take several weeks to several months. Typically, people can get back to most of their activities within 6 to 8 weeks. Your doctor will likely give you a detailed recovery timeline, including when you can get back to work and do strenuous activities, such as intense exercise and heavy lifting.
You will be given detailed instructions regarding diet and restrictions. If you have total laryngectomy, you will not be able to speak normally as you no longer have vocal cords; therefore, it is likely that you need additional treatment to help restore your voice. You need to attend regular follow-up appointments so your doctor can monitor your condition, but you can choose to do this with your local doctor. Life after laryngeal surgery can have a significant emotional impact, so it is important to have support.
Surgery for laryngeal disorders is known to be very safe and effective. The side effects and risks depend on the type of surgery you underwent. In general, the side effects and risks include infection, bleeding, scarring, and problems with the anesthetics.
If the laryngeal surgery is performed to treat cancer, your surgeon may recommend immunotherapy, chemotherapy, and Cetuximab as your alternative. For other laryngeal disorders, the alternative will depend on your specific condition, your age, your general health, and your preference. Make sure to consult your doctor regarding the best options.
Laryngeal disorders can be frustrating and cause uncomfortable symptoms, such as pain when swallowing, persistent sore throat, long-lasting cough, swelling in your neck, fatigue, and difficulty breathing. After laryngeal surgery, all of these symptoms are relieved, allowing you to go back to your normal life.
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