(Partial Glossectomy; Total Glossectomy; Hemiglossectomy)
- Partial—removal of part of the tongue
- Hemi—one side of the tongue is removed
- Total—removal of the whole tongue
|Mouth Cavity After Total Glossectomy|
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Reasons for Procedure
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- Tongue bleeding
- Airway blockage from swelling and bleeding
- Trouble swallowing or eating and aspiration of liquids
- Difficulty with speech or inability to speak
- Weight loss
- Failure of flap or reconstruction—occurs when transplanted skin or flap does not get enough blood flow
- Recurrence of cancer
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
- Ask about your medical history, including whether you smoke or drink alcohol
- Physical exam
- Blood work
- Biopsy of the tongue—a piece of tongue is removed and sent to a lab for testing to diagnose cancer
- Pictures of structures inside the body may be taken
- Talk to your doctor about your medications. You may be asked to stop taking some medications up to one week before the procedure.
- Arrange for a ride to and from the hospital.
- Eat a light meal the night before. Do not eat or drink anything after midnight.
- If you have diabetes, ask your doctor if you need to adjust your medications.
Description of the Procedure
How Long Will It Take?
How Much Will It Hurt?
Average Hospital Stay
- Oxygen through prongs attached to your nose for the first 1-2 days
- Fluids and medications will be given through an IV.
- Special boots or socks to help prevent blood clots—You will also be encouraged to get out of bed as soon as possible.
- Instructions to breathe deeply and cough 10-20 times every hour for the first few days—This will decrease the risk of pneumonia.
- Nutrition through a tube—When you are able to swallow, you will be able to have drinks and pureed food. If a total glossectomy is done, you may need a permanent feeding tube in your stomach.
- Work with a speech therapist to learn to speak and swallow after surgery
- Begin radiation therapy to treat the cancer if it had not been given before
- Washing their hands
- Wearing gloves or masks
- Keeping your incisions covered
- Washing your hands often and reminding your healthcare providers to do the same
- Reminding your healthcare providers to wear gloves or masks
- Not allowing others to touch your incision
- Gargle several times a day to prevent infection.
- Take antibiotics as prescribed.
- Take pain medication to ease discomfort.
- Slowly resume your normal diet if you are able to swallow effectively.
- Continue to work with a speech therapist.
Call Your Doctor
- Signs of infection, including fever and chills
- Difficulty swallowing or choking on food or liquids
- Swelling, excessive bleeding, or discharge from mouth
- Pain and/or swelling in the feet, calves, or legs
- Cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, or severe nausea or vomiting
- Increased pain
- New or worsening symptoms
National Cancer Institute http://www.cancer.gov
Oral Cancer Foundation http://www.oralcancerfoundation.org
Canadian Cancer Society http://www.cancer.ca
Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca
Dziegielewski PT, Ho ML, et al. Total glossectomy with laryngeal preservation and free flap reconstruction: objective functional outcomes and systematic review of the literature. Laryngoscope. 2013;123(1):140-145.
Fujimoto, Yet al. Swallowing function following extensive resection of oral or oropharyngeal cancer with laryngeal suspension and cricopharyngeal myotomy. Laryngocope. 2007;117(8):1343-1348.
Kimata Y, Uchiyama K, Ebihara S, et al. Postoperative complications and functional results after total glossectomy with microvascular reconstruction. Plast Reconstr Surg. 2000;106(5):1028-1035.
Mehta S, Sarkar S, Kavarana N, Bhathena H, Mehta A. Complications of the pectoralis major myocutaneous flap in the oral cavity: a prospective evaluation of 220 cases. Plastic Reconstruc Surg. 1996;98(1):31-37.
Oral cancer. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/types/oral. Accessed May 23, 2014.
Surgery. Oral Cancer Foundation website. Available at: http://www.oralcancerfoundation.org/treatment/surgery.php. Accessed May 23, 2014.
What you need to know about oral cancer, treatment. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/wyntk/oral. Published December 23, 2009. Accessed May 23, 2014.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 05/2014 -
- Update Date: 00/52/2014 -
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
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