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Acronyms and Definitions

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.

  1. ACID REFLUX
  2. ARTIFICIAL LARYNX/ELECTROLARYN/SERVOX
  3. ASPIRATION
  4. BOTOX
  5. DYSPHAGIA
  6. ENT - EAR, NOSE, THROAT
  7. FISTULA
  8. HANDS-FREE VALVE
  9. HME's
  10. INSUFFLATION TEST
  11. LARYNGECTOMEE
  12. LARYNGECTOMY
  13. LARYNGOSCOPY
  14. LARYNX
  15. NALC
  16. OESOPHAGEAL SPEECH
  17. PROSTHESIS
  18. PUNCTURE
  19. SCC - SQUAMOUS CELL CARCINOMA
  20. SLT – SPEECH AND LANGUAGE THERAPIST
  21. STOMA
  22. STOMA BUTTON/STUD
  23. SUPPORT GROUP
  24. SVR – SURGICAL VOICE RESTORATION
  25. TEP - TRACHEOESOPHAGEAL PUNCTURE

ACID REFLUX
The flow of stomach acids back into the oesophagus.

ARTIFICIAL LARYNX/ELECTROLARYN/SERVOX
A method of speaking using vibrations felt by placing the device against the throat.

ASPIRATION
Taking matter into the lungs by inhalation. Laryngectomees aspirate through the stoma.

BOTOX
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
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 and neck

FISTULA
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 fistula.

HANDS-FREE VALVE
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.

HME's
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.

INSUFFLATION TEST
A test given after laryngectomy and before TEP puncture to determine the voicing ability.

LARYNGECTOMEE
A person who has had laryngectomy surgery

LARYNGECTOMY
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.

LARYNGOSCOPY
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).

LARYNX
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.

NALC
National Association of Laryngectomee Clubs.

OESOPHAGEAL SPEECH
A method of inhaling or injecting air to be used for speech.

PROSTHESIS
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.

PUNCTURE
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.

STOMA
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 throat.

STOMA BUTTON/STUD
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.

SUPPORT GROUP
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.

 
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