A total laryngectomy is a surgery performed in the advanced stages of cancer. The procedure involves removing your voice box – also called the larynx. When you come home from the hospital, there may be a
period of adjustment to a new way of breathing, speaking and living.
Before total laryngectomy
Before surgery, you would breathe through your nose, mouth and throat – or what is known as the ‘upper airways’.
The vocal cords are folds of tissue in the throat that vibrate in the airstream to produce the voice.
The food pipe is the tube that takes food from the back of the mouth to the stomach.
The windpipe is the air passage from the throat to the lungs.
After total laryngectomy
After a laryngectomy, breathing happens via an opening in the neck instead of the nose and mouth.
The stoma is a permanent opening in the neck, connected to the windpipe.