Glossectomy is the removal of a part of the tongue or the total removal of the tongue. Though glossectomy is a common medical term heard often, it is performed for major reasons like tongue cancers, throat cancers, and oral cavities found inside the mouth. Glossectomy is performed in all age groups starting from kids. Glossectomy, its operation, after-effects, symptoms, and the risks behind it will be discussed in this article.
How is a glossectomy performed?
There are two types of glossectomy, namely partial glossectomy and Total glossectomy.
A glossectomy can be performed in three different ways, namely partial glossectomy, hemi glossectomy, and total glossectomy. In a partial glossectomy, only a part of the tongue will be removed. Furthermore, in a hemi glossectomy, only a half part of the tongue will be removed and the other half left as it is. Moreover, in a total glossectomy, the whole tongue will be removed. There may be difficulty in this type of glossectomy while swallowing or speaking. However, after recovery, the patient will be fine.
The defect is reconstructed with local flap / free flap.
Preparation for a glossectomy:
- As glossectomy is a surgery, the patient must be prepared before the procedure, both physically and mentally.
- Certain physical examinations like X-rays, blood tests, CT scans of the patient will be taken.
- Anesthetics will check if the patient is allergic to the specific anesthesia.
- General anesthesia will be given to the patient who is undergoing the glossectomy.
Procedure type of a glossectomy:
Follow up after a glossectomy:
As the surgical process of a glossectomy is major, one needs to take care of themselves. There is a mandatory stay at the hospital of at least 10 days. Until the patient feels normal, a feeding tube will be provided by the hospital to intake food and water. Recovery is vital, especially during the days after the surgery of glossectomy. Recovery indicates how quickly and well the patient is taking things after the surgery. Though the initial recovery period might be a little hard for the patient in communicating and swallowing, with proper diet and medications, he/she will be better soon. As soon as the patient is recovered, the patient might start feeling normal while swallowing or speaking. The patient must make sure to take care of themself.
Risks/complications of a glossectomy:
After the procedure, the patient may experience bleeding in the wound area.
As the tongue is a sensitive region, and if the immune system is weak, infections may occur.
Once the glossectomy is performed, the patient might experience hematoma, the collection of the blood outside the blood vessel.
A salivary fistula is nothing but a hole that will result in saliva leakage from the tongue, reaching down the neck region.
Recovery after a glossectomy:
Recovery is the main phase of any surgery, especially in glossectomy cases. Once the surgery is completed, the patient is advised to consume smooth and soft foods to avoid difficulties while eating. Also, whatever liquid is consumed by the patient must be thickened. By the end of recovery, one’s diet may be changed but for the betterment of the patient. As the tongue is the main part used for swallowing and communication, it may be quite hard for the patient at the beginning, but eventually, the patient will cope.