RADICAL NECK SURGERY: LARYNGECTOMY (POSTOPERATIVE
Head and neck cancer refers to a malignancy that lies above the clavicle but excludes the brain, spinal cord, axial
skeleton, and vertebrae. Although head and neck cancer accounts for 5% of all malignant disease, disability is great
because of the potential loss of voice, disfigurement, and social consequences. The majority of the laryngeal neoplasms
(95%) are squamous cell carcinomas that arise from the oral cavity. When cancer is limited to the vocal cords
(intrinsic), spread may be slow. When the cancer involves the epiglottis (extrinsic), metastasis is more common.
Current treatment choices include surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. Radiation or carbon dioxide laser may be used
for early stage disease. This plan of care focuses on nursing care of the patient undergoing radical surgery of the neck,
Partial laryngectomy (also called cordotomy):
Tumors that are limited to one vocal cord are removed, and a temporary
tracheotomy is performed to maintain the airway. After recovery from surgery, the patient will have a voice but it
will be hoarse.
When there is a possibility the cancer includes one true and one false vocal cord, they are removed
along with an arytenoid cartilage and half of the thyroid cartilage. Temporary tracheotomy is performed, and the
patient’s voice will be hoarse after surgery.
When the tumor is located in the epiglottis or false vocal cords, radical neck dissection is
done and tracheotomy performed. The patient’s voice remains intact; however, swallowing is more difficult
because the epiglottis has been removed.
Advanced cancers that involve a large portion of the larynx require removal of the entire larynx,
the hyoid bone, the cricoid cartilage, two or three tracheal rings, and the strap muscles connected to the larynx. A
permanent opening is created in the neck into the trachea, and a laryngectomy tube is inserted to keep the stoma
open. The lower portion of the posterior pharynx is removed when the tumor extends beyond the epiglottis, with
the remaining portion sutured to the esophagus after a nasogastric tube is inserted. The patient must breathe
through a permanent tracheostomy, with normal speech no longer possible. Swallowing is not a long-term
problem because there is no connection between the esophagus and trachea.
Inpatient surgical and possibly subacute units.
Psychosocial aspects of care
Total nutritional support: parenteral/enteral feeding
Patient Assessment Database (Preoperative)
Preoperative data presented here depend on the specific type/location of cancer process and underlying complications.