This is surgery to remove the larynx, more commonly known as the voice box. In some cases, a partial laryngectomy may be possible.

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Possible Complications

Problems from the procedure are common. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:

  • Infection
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Excessive swelling or bleeding
  • Opening of the incision or poor wound healing
  • Injury to the trachea, also known as the windpipe, or esophagus
  • Blood clots
  • Anesthesia-related problems
  • Saliva leaking out to the skin
  • Inability to speak or aphonia
  • Cancer occurs again

Some factors that may increase the risk of complications include:

  • Pre-existing medical condition
  • Increased age
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Previous surgical procedure to the larynx
  • Prior radiation or chemotherapy
  • Poor nutrition
  • Diabetes

Be sure to discuss these risks with your doctor before the surgery.



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.

Edits to original content made by Denver Health.


American Cancer Society 

National Cancer Institute 


BC Cancer Agency 

Canadian Cancer Society 


Hanasono MM, Lin D, Wax MK, Rosenthal EL. Closure of laryngectomy defects in the age of chemoradiation therapy. Head Neck. 2012;34(4):580-588.

Laryngeal and hypopharyngeal cancers. American Cancer Society website. Available at: Accessed May 9, 2016.

Laryngectomy. UC Davis Health System website. Available at: Accessed May 9, 2016.