Laryngectomy Rehabilitation

Laryngectomy is the surgical removal of the entire larynx (voice box) or portions of the larynx, which houses the vocal cords that are responsible for sound production.  Laryngectomy also separates the airway from the mouth, nose and esophagus. 

Surgical removal of the larynx is a radical, yet necessary treatment method for people who:

  • have cancer of the larynx,
  • develop radiation necrosis (damage to the larynx stemming from radiation treatment),
  • have severe swallowing problems or other head and neck cancers, or
  • sustained severe injury to the neck

Depending on your condition, a partial or complete laryngectomy will be performed. 

Speech language pathologists work with physicians for the most appropriate treatment for an individual.  Patients are referred for pre and post-operative consultation and treatment for education and support, as well as an arranged visit with a volunteer who has undergone laryngectomy surgery. Education and training is provided to learn new methods of speaking following a laryngectomy. 

Voice replacement options include:

  • Use of artificial larynx (AL) – the artificial larynx is a handheld battery operated device which produces electronic vibrations and amplifies the voice when placed over the throat or cheek.
  • TEP (Tracheo-esophageal puncture) – TEP speech utilizes a prosthesis, which is a one way valve that allows air to pass from the lungs/trachea to the esophagus to produce sound by vibrating the esophageal tissue. This may be performed during initial surgery or at a later time.
  • Esophageal Speech – air is pushed into the esophagus and then pushed back up, allowing for sound to create speech.. This method is difficult to learn and use compared to the other options. 

Support Group

The outpatient Center for Adult Communication Disorders division of the SLP department sponsors bi-monthly Head & Neck Support Group meetings, held the 2nd Thursday of the odd months from noon to 1 p.m. at the Beaumont Health Center, for people who have undergone a laryngectomy or other head and neck cancer treatment.  Family members are welcome. This includes education, speakers and support for those with head and neck cancers. Call for more information 248-655-5880.

Helpful Links

International Association of Laryngectomees

Support for People with Oral and Head and Neck Cancers