Our SLP offers rehabilitation services for laryngectomees in East Texas, including swallowing therapy, voice therapy and help with all the new supplies and anatomical changes.
A total laryngectomy is a complex surgical procedure where the larynx (also known as the voice box) is removed and the throat is reconstructed. The larynx connects the upper airway (nose, pharynx) to the lower airway (trachea, lungs) and protects the lower airway when you swallow. Because of this, when the surgeon removes the larynx, they must also redirect the trachea and create a permanent opening at the front of the neck for breathing. This permanent opening is called a stoma and is why people who have undergone this surgery are referred to as “neck breathers.” A person who has had a total laryngectomy can also be called a laryngectomee.
Your speech pathologist will be an excellent resource for determining which of the following communication methods is best for you based on your medical/surgical history, financial situation and many other factors.
- An electrolarynx (EL) is a device that produces an electric tone in place of one’s voice. This device has been around for many years and was the primary method laryngectomees used for communication. With recent medical advances, this method isn’t quite as common now; however, laryngectomy patients should know how to use an electrolarynx in the event of an emergency. The state of Texas also provides each laryngectomee with access to a free EL, which our SLP can help you get.
- A tracheoesophageal voice prosthesis (TEP)is the most recent advancement for laryngectomy patients and their voices. It is also referred to as surgical voice restoration, as this communication method requires an additional surgical procedure. However, depending on your surgeon and specific situation, sometimes this surgical voice restoration procedure is performed at the same time as the total laryngectomy. During this procedure, your surgeon makes a small hole to connect the trachea (windpipe) and the esophagus (food pipe); this creates a small tract commonly referred to as the tracheoesophageal tract, or TE tract. A small voice prosthesis is inserted into the TE tract for the patient to produce a voice. The voice prosthesis has a one-way valve that allows air to pass through to the throat, causing vibrations very similar to the vibrations caused by vocal cords. These vibrations allow for a more natural sound source when compared to the electrolarynx. You will articulate sounds and speak the same—just with a different sound source! Our SLP can help manage issues arising from the voice prosthesis, like poor voicing quality or leakage.
These anatomical changes require new supplies, including LaryTubes, adhesives, HME cassettes and more. Our SLP can help educate you on the best supply options to aid in your breathing and voicing.
Our office also holds frequent support group meetings for laryngectomees and their caregivers, friends and family. We would love to have you join us!
Call ENT Associates of East Texas at (903) 592-5601 for more information or to schedule an appointment.