Cordectomy is a surgical procedure that removes the part or complete vocal cords to treat laryngeal cancer. It is performed when the patient has a small tumor in the glottis. It refers to the excision of one or both the vocal cords. Laryngeal cancer affects the larynx, commonly known as the voice box, which is used for talking, breathing, and swallowing.
How Cordectomy performed?
The procedure of cordectomy is performed by removing the tumor and the healthy tissues surrounding the cancer so that no cancer cells are left behind during the surgery. The treatment is performed by traditional surgical techniques or by carbon dioxide laser.
- Cordectomy through laryngofissure: It is the operation of vertically splitting the thyroid cartilage in the midline by the formation of a wide window. Also known as median thyrotomy, it is the oldest surgical procedure for treating early glottic carcinoma.
- Endoscopic laser cordectomy (Kashima operation): This is an endoscopic laser surgical procedure for treating the respiratory difficulty caused by vocal fold paralysis and glottic carcinoma.
Preparation for Cordectomy
- Get complete information about the procedure.
Before the surgery, you should be aware of all the permanent impacts on life, side effects, and risks of the procedure done on the larynx, especially the loss of speaking ability with severity correlating to the portion of the vocal cords removed.
- Adopt healthy habits
Try to eat a healthy and well-balanced diet and avoid processed foods. Under the guidance of your doctors, make a plan for getting enough physical activity.
- Quit smoking
Quitting smoking before the cordectomy increases the rate of survival and reduces side effects and time of recovery.
This procedure is done in the presence of anesthesia, and Atropine is always included in premedication.
The correct positioning of the body during cordectomy is critical for the optimal introduction of the laryngoscope. You should lie horizontally flat on the operating table, and the dental plate must be fixed before the laryngoscope is introduced.
After the treatment of laryngeal cancer, you will likely need to spend a few days in an intensive care unit until you have recovered. It will not be advisable to eat until your throat has completely healed. You may be prescribed acid-blocking medication after your surgery. You will not be allowed to speak for a few days, and if you have had total removal of the vocal cords, you will not be able to speak normally. You will need to communicate using different ways, like pen and paper for a few days.
Risks and Side Effects of Cordectomy
- Change in vocal capacity: If part of the vocal cords is removed, you might experience hoarseness in voice or loss of vocal range. If a total cordectomy is performed, the patient might not be able to produce any vocal sounds.
- Facial disfigurement
- Numbness in the throat and neck
- Problems swallowing or talking
- Swelling of mouth and throat
To recover effectively, your physician will advise you to give your voice a rest for 3–7 days. This will include no talking, clearing your throat, whispering or coughing. Any noise made by the throat can be threatening to the healing process. Heavy exercising and playing instruments will not be allowed for a few weeks or months, depending on the severity of the treatment. You will need to visit a speech pathologist, who will guide you to take off your voice rest. You will be fed using a tube through your nose during the recovery of the throat.
Get Second Opinion
Get free second opinion from India’s leading specialists.