(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
|Cancer of the Tongue|
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- Tongue bleeding
- Airway blockage from swelling and bleeding
- Trouble swallowing and aspiration of liquids
- Being unable to speak
- Weight loss
- Failure of flap—occurs when transplanted skin or flap does not get enough blood flow
- Recurrence of cancer
- Lung disease
- Large tumors
- Prior radiation
- Prior chemotherapy
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
- Blood work
- Physical exam
- Ask about your medical history, including whether you smoke or drink alcohol
- Biopsy of the tongue—a piece of tongue is removed and sent to a lab for testing to diagnose cancer
- X-ray or CT scan of the chest—tests that take a picture of structures inside the chest
- CT scan of the mouth and neck —a type of x-ray that uses a computer to make pictures of structures inside the body
Talk to your doctor about your medicines. You may be asked to stop taking some medicines up to one week before the procedure, like:
- Anti-inflammatory drugs (eg, aspirin )
- Blood thinners, such as clopidogrel (Plavix) or warfarin (Coumadin)
- 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 medicines.
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
- Nutrition through a tube—Once 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.
- Fluids and medicines will be given through an IV
- Special boots or sock 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 .
- 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
- Gargle several times a day to prevent infection.
- Take antibiotics as prescribed.
- Take pain medicine to ease discomfort.
- Slowly resume your normal diet.
- Continue to work with a speech therapist.
- Be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions.
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
- Problems with urination
- Cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, or severe nausea or vomiting
- Increased pain
- Any other worrisome symptom
National Cancer Institute http://www.nci.nih.gov/
Oral Cancer Foundation http://www.oralcancerfoundation.org/
Canadian Cancer Society http://www.cancer.ca/
Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/index%5Fe.html/
Fujimoto, Yet al. Swallowing Function Following Extensive Resection of Oral or Oropharyngeal Cancer With Laryngeal Suspension and Cricopharyngeal Myotomy. Laryngoscope . 117(8):1343-1348, August 2007.
Glossectomy. Surgery Encyclopedia website. Available at: http://www.surgeryencyclopedia.com/Fi-La/Glossectomy.html . Accessed November 18, 2008.
Kimata Y, Uchiyama K, Ebihara S, et al. Postoperative complications and functional results after total glossectomy with microvascular reconstruction. Plast Reconstr Surg . 2000 Oct;106(5):1028-35.
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 & Reconstructive Surgery . 1996;98:31-37.
Oral cancer. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: http://www.nci.nih.gov/cancertopics/types/oral . Accessed November 18, 2008.
Oral tongue cancer. Mayo Clinic website. Available at: http://www.mayoclinic.org/oral-tongue-cancer/treatment.html . Accessed November 19, 2008.
Surgery. Oral Cancer Foundation website. Available at: http://www.oralcancerfoundation.org/facts/surgery.htm . Accessed November 18, 2008.
What you need to know about oral cancer, treatment. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: http://www.nci.nih.gov/cancertopics/wyntk/oral/page9 . Updated September 2004. Accessed November 18, 2008.
- Reviewer: Marcin Chwistek, MD
- Review Date: 10/2012 -
- Update Date: 10/31/2012 -
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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