Hospitalisation after surgery
On average the duration of hospitalisation for total laryngectomy is approximately 10 days. However, this duration may be extended if small post-operative complications occur.
The objective on the first 2 to 3 days after surgery will be to rest, and to remain the surgical drains (which prevent the formation of bruises), the urinary catheter which was inserted during the operation and the infusions.
The following week will have several objectives. The first is to allow the stitches to heal properly. In fact, the path for the passage of food has been opened and stitched. It would therefore be too dangerous to each through the mouth, because there is a risk of leakage. During this period, you will be fed through a tube that goes from the nose to the stomach, and which is called a naso-gastric tube.
The second objective is to start learning how to live with the changes in your body. You will therefore, learn how to suction the lung secretions through the trachea, passing through the tracheostoma. You will learn how to clean the tracheostoma, the cannula placed in it and to change this cannula. You will also learn how to reaction correctly in case of problems. Finally, you will learn how to communicate in another way than with the voice, because you will not be able to use immediately the oro- or tracheo-oesophageal voices we mentioned in the previous section. In fact, these two voices require a longer learning process, which will be carried out with the speech pathologist a little bit later.
All these learning as well as the acquisition of new skills is called therapeutic education. It is with the objective of formalising and improve them that the therapeutic education programme PETAL was proposed to you.
At the end of the 10 days, when the team doctors will deem that the wound healing has progressed enough, the first feeding tests will be carried out. You manage to eat and swallow without problem, however we must verify that there is no leakage. Thus, if you manage to eat enough and without leakage, the tube going from the nose to the stomach used to feed you, will be removed. At that moment, your discharge will be organised.
In the event that you had radiation therapy (X-rays) before the surgery, the wound healing period will be extended to 20 days. In fact, skin that has received radiation heals less well and more slowly.