Treatment by total laryngectomy:
In practical terms, a total laryngectomy is a surgical operation that consists in removing the larynx.
The larynx is an organ on its own, like the liver, kidneys or lungs. It is located in the neck. The Adam apple is in fact part of the larynx.
This organ includes several parts. The best known is the vocal chords, but there are others, such as the epiglottis or the arytenoids.
Anatomy of the larynx:
This organ has three main functions
The first is breathing. It allows air to come into and out of your lungs:
The second is swallowing. It allows you to swallow food and send it to the oesophagus and the stomach, preventing its passage into the trachea and the lungs.
The third function is speech. The larynx allows you to speak, thanks to the vibration of the vocal chords.
These 3 very important functions will therefore be modified by the surgery.
In practice, the surgery is performed under general anaesthesia. A U-shaped incision is performed, which allows detaching the skin from the larynx. The larynx is then separated from the neck, trachea and oesophagus vessels and removed. The trachea is fixed directly on the skin of the neck, this new hole is called the tracheostoma. The oesophagus is closed to form a new larynx.
In this type of surgery, the neck lymph nodes, which could be affected by the cancer, are usually removed.
Everything that is removes is sent to the laboratory for analysis. The objective is to determine if the cancer was removed or not, and this will have a major impact on what follows.