Mia asked in Science & MathematicsMedicine · 3 years ago

Are laryngectomies and skin grafts dangerous surgeries?

My dad has to have a total laryngectony with the removal of his cancerous tumor this week. They are taking skin from his arm and putting it in his throat and removing his voice box, so really that is all I know. I myself had a bad, life threatening experience with a very minor arm surgery and anesthesia, so I am beyond scared for this surgery, considering it can last anywhere from 6-12 hours. My dad, before having cancer was a beyond active and healthy man, not even on one medication for anything and excersized a lot. Pretty much what im asking is, chances are, the surgery will go fine right? I just get nervous something will go wrong or he is under medication for too long. please ease my mind.

2 Answers

  • 3 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    All surgery carries a degree of risk, and your dad's laryngectomy is a very major operation on a very complex and critical part of the body, so the risks are higher. Sorry, but there can be no hiding of that fact. The skin grafting also carries surgical risks but it is an extremely low-risk operation with very few major complications.

    However, the surgeons who do this are also used to doing it regularly as it is not an uncommon operation and will have used very detailed modern diagnostic tests including detailed images taken by techniques such as CT and maybe MRI or even PET to plan the operation out in advance as every one is unique even though the same skills and techniques are used.

    So yes, the chances are that the surgery will go fine.

    The much greater risk to your dad is in NOT having the operation. That will definitely lead to a painful and highly unpleasant death in the not too distant future, so your dad is very fortunate to be living in an age where such surgeries are now not merely possible but are routinely carried out, and to be living in a country where he has access to such advanced medical care.

    Good luck.

  • 3 years ago

    Yes, a laryngectomy, especially a total laryngectomy, is dangerous. The rate of complications depends very much on the particular patient, hospital, and surgical team. As a very rough rule of thumb, we might expect 5% rate of major adverse results (stroke, myocardial infarctions, pulmonary emboli, respiratory failure, and death). Lesser serious complications (wound healing, fistula, infection, chyle leak, etc.) are very common, at about 30%. I don't have the figures for NOT having the operation, but I would expect over 90% death within a few years.

    But these are national averages from 20 years ago. Your dad is not average, and his doctor is not average. You should ask the doctor how to evaluate the risks for your Dad, for the hospital. One of the major factors the doctor has to consider is the patient's compliance with medical orders. People who say "I was healthy and active before surgery, therefore I don't have to take all these pills" ... those can be the worst. When I had my gall bladder taken out, the surgeon said his 99.8%+ success rate was mostly due to patients following his orders. But I think his having done it over 3000 times might have had something to do with it.

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