Glossectomy

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

  • Call Your Doctor


    Call your doctor if any of the following occur:

    • Signs of infection, including fever and chills
    • Difficulty swallowing or choking on food or liquids
    • Swelling, excessive bleeding, or discharge from mouth
    • Pain and/or swelling in the feet, calves, or legs
    • Cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, or severe nausea or vomiting
    • Increased pain
    • New or worsening symptoms

    If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.

  • Definition

    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
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  • What to Expect

  • Reasons for Procedure


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

    Tongue Cancer
    tongue cancer
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  • Possible Complications

    Problems from the procedure occur, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:

    • Tongue bleeding
    • Infection
    • Airway blockage from swelling and bleeding
    • Trouble swallowing or eating and aspiration of liquids
    • Difficulty with speech or inability to speak
    • Weight loss
    • Failure of flap or reconstruction—occurs when transplanted skin or flap does not get enough blood flow
    • Recurrence of cancer

    Before your procedure, talk to your doctor about ways to manage factors that may increase your risk of complications such as:

    • Smoking
    • Drinking
    • Chronic diseases, such as diabetes or obesity