What is it? Overview Usage Side Effects and Warnings

What is Glossectomy?

A glossectomy is the surgical removal of all or part of the tongue. The surgery may be:

  • 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
Mouth Cavity After Total Glossectomy
© 2009 Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

This surgery is used to treat tongue cancer . It is done when other treatments have not been successful.

Cancer of the Tongue
Cancer of the Tongue
© 2009 Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Possible Complications

No procedure is completely free of risk. If you are planning to have glossectomy, your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:

  • Tongue bleeding
  • Infection
  • 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

Some factors that may increase the risk of complications include:

  • Lung disease
  • Large tumors
  • Malnutrition
  • Alcoholism
  • Smoking
  • Prior radiation
  • Prior chemotherapy
  • Diabetes

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

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