Surgical removal of the larynx (voice box)

HCA UK experts explain what happens during and after the surgical procedure to remove the larynx (voice box).


A laryngectomy is a surgical procedure that removes the larynx (voice box). There are two types of laryngectomy – partial and total. It is a common, but serious treatment for people with laryngeal (larynx) cancer and is sometimes used for people with severe injuries to the neck or with radiation necrosis, when the larynx is damaged from radiation treatment.

Need to know

  • What happens icon plus

    Partial laryngectomies are uncommon, but sometimes used to treat laryngeal cancer. During surgery, the affected part of your larynx is removed, leaving some of your vocal chords in place to make talking possible.

    With a total laryngectomy, your whole larynx is removed, making it harder for normal speech to continue afterwards. During surgery, a small, permanent hole will be made in the trachea (called a stoma) to help you to breathe. Afterwards, stitches will be used to close your throat muscles. This is usually offered to people with more advanced stages of laryngeal cancer.
  • How to prepare icon plus

    A laryngectomy is a serious, lengthy treatment lasting between five and 12 hours. The surgery is performed under general anaesthetic, so you will be asleep and won’t feel pain during the procedure.

    You may need to prepare for the surgery by having blood tests and a physical examination beforehand, as well as fasting and stopping certain medications.

    Your consultant will tell you how to prepare for your operation to ensure you know what to expect. They will take time to talk you through the risks and side effects involved and answer any questions you may have.
  • Afterwards icon plus

    When you wake up, you'll be in our intensive care unit (ICU) where our specialist nurses will give you one-to-one care. You might be attached to a respirator to help you breathe and you'll have a tube passed through your nose into your stomach to feed you for the first few weeks.

    After the operation your speaking, swallowing, and breathing will be affected. At HCA UK, our multidisciplinary team will be on hand to help you recover and assist you with learning new ways to perform these tasks after surgery. It can take time to get used to having a stoma, but our team will give you help and advice so you can care for it and keep the area clean.

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This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.
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