To assess the frequency of anterior pharyngeal pouch formation after total laryngectomy, and to discuss the causes and consequences of anterior pharyngeal pouch formation.
A prospective, observational study of 43 patients undergoing total laryngectomy.
Data collected included laryngeal defect closure type, tumour staging and demographic information. A barium swallow was performed on day 7–14 after surgery to assess for anterior pharyngeal pouch formation and fistula formation.
The incidence of anterior pharyngeal pouch formation was 47 per cent. Patients who did not have an anterior pharyngeal pouch on swallow imaging assessment were less likely to develop a pharyngo-cutaneous fistula. There was no statistically significant association between laryngeal defect closure type and anterior pharyngeal pouch formation.
The anterior pharyngeal pouch is a dynamic phenomenon best investigated with a fluoroscopic swallow imaging study. Its causes are multi-factorial. Absence of an anterior pharyngeal pouch appears to confer protection against pharyngo-cutaneous fistula formation, hastening commencement of adjuvant therapy and an oral diet.
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