A wide range of products that a laryngectomee needs are now available
on prescription. These are available from your GP but in East Lancashire
all laryngectomees are registered with “Countrywide Supplies”
who usually deliver your prescription free of charge to you home
24hours following order.
NB: Laryngectomees should not have to pay for prescriptions.
Following surgery a laryngectomee has a stoma (a permanent hole
that leads from their neck directly to the lungs). It is important
that this area is kept clean and open. A number of creams and wipes
are available to help with cleaning. It will also be necessary to
wear a small tube or stoma button for a short time after the operation
to protect the stoma and prevent it from shrinking down too quickly.
Before the operation, air passed via the nose and mouth and was
moistened and filtered prior to reaching the lungs. After a laryngectomy
the nose and mouth are no longer used in this way and air leads
directly from the stoma into the lungs. Consequently inhaled air
needs to be filtered, warmed and moistened prior to entering the
stoma. This is commonly known as a HME (a heat and moisture exchange
system). A number of different products can be used to carry out
this process and the laryngectomee can best decide the system that
These are small, disposable foam filters that are lightweight,
comfortable and unobtrusive. They come in two sizes (51mm x 65mm
and 65mm x 65mm) and two colours (white and beige). They are held
securely in place by a hypoallergenic adhesive strip which covers
the stoma and warms, moistens and filters incoming air.
There are a variety of bibs available and range in size (large
or small), colour (blue, beige or white) and fastening (tie, Velcro,
pull cord). These are generally moistened with a fine mist of water
to humidify the air you breathe. These products can be simply washed
and reused a number of times prior to disposal.
3. Baseplates and Cassettes
These are available in a variety of different sizes (round, oval,
convex) colours (white, clear, beige) and with different strengths
of adhesive (e.g. optiderm, normal, regular, flexiderm etc.) depending
on what they are being used for. It is fitted over the stoma, almost
like a plaster and various attachment then ‘click’ on
to it. This speech and language therapist and nursing staff will
advise you which baseplate to use. These baseplates usually last
24- 48 hours although they may need to be changed sooner in the
The cassette ‘clicks’ on to the baseplate. It contains
a foam filter which is responsible for filtering, warming and moistening
inhaled air and side vents which prevent ‘sucking up’
against clothing, bed linen etc. There are also different levels
of resistance dependent on whether you are a new laryngectomee and
need to get used to the system; carrying out active sports or an
established user. If you have a voice prosthesis fitted the button
of the filter can be depressed to enable an airtight seal so air
is shunted through the valve and enables the laryngectomee to speak.
It is really important that laryngectomees do not allow water
to enter the stoma when showering etc. It is reported that only
a tablespoon (15mls) of water entering the stoma is enough for a
laryngectomee to drown. If a patient uses a baseplate there is a
‘shower aid’ available that ‘clicks’ onto
the baseplate. A strong adhesive baseplate should be worn when showering
and we recommend the ‘flexiderm oval’.
However if you do not use the baseplate system there are a number
of aprons available that can also be worn to protect the stoma (020).
They simply fasten around the neck using Velcro.
Immediately following your operation you will be issued with an
electrolarynx (servox) by your speech and language therapist. Please
click here for some more information on an electrolarynx.
If you are fitted with a voice prosthesis (valve) this will be
fitted by the Doctors at the hospital and involves a small operation.
They will need to be changed periodically. Valves come in many different
varieties – they are generally changed by a clinician at the
hospital but for some models you can be taught to self change. However
if you have one of these fitted it is important that it is cleaned
regularly – you will be issued with brushes, pipettes etc
and shown how to do this by the speech and language therapist and/or