In the world of laryngectomees, you will hear a number of terms
used, often in different ways, so it is easy to become confused.
Let's talk about some basic terms and their definitions.
- ACID REFLUX
- ARTIFICIAL LARYNX/ELECTROLARYN/SERVOX
- ENT - EAR, NOSE, THROAT
- HANDS-FREE VALVE
- INSUFFLATION TEST
- OESOPHAGEAL SPEECH
- SCC - SQUAMOUS CELL CARCINOMA
- SLT – SPEECH AND LANGUAGE THERAPIST
- STOMA BUTTON/STUD
- SUPPORT GROUP
- SVR – SURGICAL VOICE RESTORATION
- TEP - TRACHEOESOPHAGEAL PUNCTURE
The flow of stomach acids back into the oesophagus.
A method of speaking using vibrations felt by placing the device
against the throat.
Taking matter into the lungs by inhalation. Laryngectomees aspirate
through the stoma.
An injection of Botulinum Toxin that is used to weaken a muscle
that is too rigid or tight. The toxin weakens muscles by blocking
the nerve impulse to the muscle and is not permanent.
Dysphagia is difficulty in moving food or liquid from your mouth
to your stomach. A narrowing of the esophagus is a common cause
for the laryngectomee since removal of the larynx takes a part of
the esophagus with it, thereby reducing the diameter of the tube.
Scar tissue also forms from surgery and perhaps from radiation.
In many cases, dysphagia can be partially or completely corrected.
ENT - EAR, NOSE, THROAT
Otolaryngologists are physicians trained in the medical and surgical
management and treatment of patients with diseases and disorders
of the ear, nose, throat (ENT), and related structures of the head
An abnormal passage from a hollow organ to the body surface, or
from one organ to another. The puncture part of the TEP is a planned
Adjustable Tracheostoma Valve, when used in conjunction with a TEP
voice prosthesis, allows hands free operation of the stoma, eliminating
the need to use a finger or thumb to control the air passage. It
enables hands-free, conversational speech. There are several ways
of using a valve but the most common one is using a housing/baseplate
which is glued to the neck around the stoma. The valve fits into
the housing and rests in an open position. A slight increase in
pressure while exhaling causes the diaphragm to close and divert
air through the prosthesis. At the completion of speech, the diaphragm
automatically reopens as exhalation decreases.
Heat/Moisture Exchange (HME) filters are a type of stoma cover which
help laryngectomees partially restore functions previously performed
by our noses and upper airways. They might be thought of as "artificial
noses." As the name implies, an “exchange” of heat
and moisture occurs in the HME filter as a laryngectomee inhales
and exhales. During exhalation, warmth and humidity are conveyed
from the lungs and deposited into the filter. During inhalation,
the warmth and moisture are picked back up by incoming air and returned
to the lungs.
A test given after laryngectomy and before TEP puncture to determine
the voicing ability.
A person who has had laryngectomy surgery
A laryngectomy is surgical removal of the larynx, also called the
voice box since it contains the vocal cords. It is located at the
point where a division occurs from the single tube that makes up
the throat (also called the pharynx) into separate tubes for food
going to the stomach (the oesophagus) and air going to the lungs
(trachea, or windpipe). The larynx is the organ in the throat that,
through the use of the vocal cords, enables us to create speech.
Examination of the larynx with a mirror (indirect laryngoscopy)
or with a laryngoscope (direct laryngoscopy). The laryngoscope is
a flexible, lighted tube used to look at the inside of the larynx
(the voice box).
The larynx is the portion of the respiratory tract containing the
vocal cords. It is located between the pharynx and the trachea.
Its outer wall of cartilage forms the area of the front of the neck
referred to as the "Adams apple." The vocal cords, two
bands of muscle, form a "V" inside the larynx.
National Association of Laryngectomee Clubs.
A method of inhaling or injecting air to be used for speech.
A voice prosthesis is a small removable silicone tube that connects
the lungs and esophagus by way of the TracheoEsophageal Puncture.
It has a one way valve at the interior (oesophageal) end which prevents
liquids or foods from coming back into the trachea. When you cover
(or occlude) the stoma, this redirects exhaled lung air through
the prosthesis into your esophagus. This airflow causes the upper
part of the esophagus to vibrate, and we use the sound this produces,
modified by the tongue, teeth, and lips, to form sounds which make
up words and speech.
The opening which is surgically created between the trachea and
esophagus. See TEP.
SCC - SQUAMOUS CELL CARCINOMA
Cancer that begins in squamous cells -- thin, flat cells that look
under the microscope like fish scales. Squamous cells are found
in the tissue that forms the surface of the skin, the lining of
the hollow organs of the body, and the passages of the respiratory
and digestive tracts so squamous cell carcinomas may arise in any
of these tissues. This is the most common type of laryngeal cancer.
SLT – SPEECH AND LANGUAGE THERAPIST
A person trained to assist people with all types of speech difficulties
and disabilities. There are SLTs who have no experience with laryngectomees,
others who have special training and are proficient at helping people
with speech following laryngectomy.
Also known as a tracheostoma. It is the hole in the neck made by
redirecting your trachea (windpipe) forward and creating a permanent
opening. After the surgery, your air will move in and out of your
lungs through the stoma instead of through your mouth, nose and
A button/stud is worn in the stoma. They come in all shapes and
sizes. Curved or straight; long or short; different diameters and
made of different materials. They sometimes have a place to tie
a band around your neck to keep it in place and some have a ridge
around the back edge to hold it in your stoma without a tie. They
all have some kind of a flange or collar on the outside to keep
them from slipping into the trachea. The main purposes are to keep
your stoma nicely shaped and stretched out to the size they need
to be for comfortable breathing.
A group who meets to provide support for people who have similar
problems. It may be run by a professional or by the participants.
This may be a club that is part of a clinic or hospital and could
be affiliated with the IAL or not. The main purpose it to share
and learn from each other.
SVR – SURGICAL VOICE RESTORATION
The surgical process by which a voice prosthesis is placed into
a fistula between the trachea and oesophagus which is then used
to produce speech.
TEP - TRACHEOESOPHAGEAL PUNCTURE
A TEP is a surgically made passage between the trachea and oesophagus
to hold a voice prosthesis. It enables lung air to pass through
the prosthesis and be used to make speech again.