What is a Total Laryngectomy?
This is when the larynx (voice box) is removed. An opening or stoma is made in the trachea
(windpipe) in the front of the neck. Air enters and leaves the trachea and lungs through this
opening. A tracheostomy tube, also called a trach (trake) tube, will be placed to help keep the
new airway open until the stoma is healed.
What can I Expect after Surgery?
ξ Your Trachea (breathing tube)
and swallowing tube are now
ξ You will be breathing through
your neck (stoma).
ξ You will not be able to talk.
ξ At first, you will be given
humidified oxygen through a
mask over your neck to moisten
the air you breathe.
ξ Your lungs may produce a great
deal of mucus at first. You will
cough mucus out through your
Caring for your Stoma and Tracheostomy Tube
ξ You need to take care of your trach tube, your stoma and the skin around the stoma. The
nurses will teach you and your family how to take care of your trach tube and stoma
when you are getting ready to leave the hospital. You will be given a separate Health
Facts for You, Trach Care at Home #5340.
ξ The nurse will irrigate your stoma every 8 hours at first or more often if you need it. This
is done by placing a small amount of saline into your stoma. This will produce a cough
reflex that loosens and brings up the secretions.
ξ The nurses may use suction through the trach tube to encourage you to cough and help
remove mucus when you need it.
ξ For a short time, your nurse may also need to suction secretions from your mouth since
swelling in the throat makes it hard to swallow.
ξ The doctors will change the Tracheostomy tube after a few days.
ξ Your trach tube will stay in place until the skin around the stoma heals.
ξ When the tube is removed, it is sometimes replaced by a stoma “button” or a
Laryngectomy tube which is a plastic piece that fits just inside the stoma to help protect
ξ After a while, some people get along without either a tube or a button in the stoma.
How Will I Communicate?
ξ Because your voice box has been
removed, you will need to learn to
communicate in other ways. While in
the hospital, it can be done by writing,
gestures, or pointing to pictures, words
or letters. Some people like to use a
magic slate to write notes or use pen
ξ Your nurse will work with you to help
you find what works best.
ξ We will supply paper and pens or
ξ A speech pathologist will meet with
you to explain methods that can be used
to communicate which may include
esophageal speech, tracheoesophageal
puncture, electrolarynx or pneumatic
ξ You will not be able to eat or drink after surgery until the area is healing and swelling is
less. Fluids and nutrition supplements will be given through a tube put in place during
surgery. This tube is called a “nasogastric tube” (NG), or a smaller tube called a
“Dobbhoff”. The tube passes through your nose and throat to your stomach.
ξ You will be fed through this tube until you are ready to swallow foods again.
ξ Easing your pain is an important part of your care and it can vary. Your nurse will talk
with you about using a pain rating scale and what level of pain you may expect. Pain
medicine will be given to keep you comfortable.
ξ Also, if you have had extra surgery to remove the lymph nodes in the neck, your
shoulders and neck may be weak and stiff.
What Do I Need to Learn before Going Home?
When you are ready to start learning how to care for yourself at home, your nurse will give you a
handout and teach you how to perform the needed steps. You will be taught these cares.
ξ Trach or Stoma Care which includes skin care and cleaning of the Trach tube
HFFY # 5340
ξ Preventing Tracheitis HFFY # 5317
You will begin self-care while in the hospital so that you are able to care for yourself before
you go home. If other health problems prevent you from doing your own care, we will plan for
this. This may include teaching a family member and or calling a home care agency to help you.
Your first follow-up visit will be scheduled for you before you go home. Call your doctor or
ξ Change in color, amount, or texture of secretions.
ξ Redness or skin breakdown around tracheostomy or stoma.
ξ Fever of 100.5 θF.
ξ Pain not controlled by your medicine.
ξ Any questions or other concerns.
Monday-Friday 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. call: ENT clinic (608) 263-6190
After 5:00 pm or weekends, the clinic number is answered by the paging operator. Ask for the
ENT doctor on-call. Leave your name, area code and phone number. The doctor will call you
If you live out of the area, please call 1-800-323-8942.
They are also available for free download at http://dribrook.blogspot.com/
Both are also available as a paperback and Kindle at Amazon.com
Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you
have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This
is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each
person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using
this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright ©2/2016. University of Wisconsin Hospitals
and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#7741.