Difficulties in the fixation of prostheses for voice rehabilitation after laryngectomy

E.J.O. ten Hallers*, H.A.M. Marres, G. Rakhorst, R. Hagen, A. Staffieri, B.F.A.M. van der Laan, E.B. van der Houwen, G.J. Verkerke

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


In most patients with advanced or recurrent laryngeal or hypopharyngeal cancer, total laryngectomy is indicated. This means the loss of three main functions: phonation; respiration; and the prevention of aspiration during deglutition. Laryngectomy patients have various options to restore phonation: an oesophageal voice; an electrolaryngeal voice; or a tracheo-oesophageal voice. In the last case a silicone rubber shunt valve is placed in the tracheo-oesophageal wall and phonation is generated when exhaled air is forced through the oesophagus and neopharynx. This method is widely applied in Western Europe. In this paper we review the literature on fixation problems with shunt valves, tracheostoma valves and heat and moisture exchange (HME) filters. Tracheo-oesophageal speech without a valve is not considered. Despite 22 years of experience with the implantation of tracheo-esophageal shunt valves and many improvements in the design, problems still remain, such as biofilm formation with subsequent leakage through the valve, the need for frequent and inconvenient replacements, fistula enlargement leading to leakage around the device and reduced fixation, and infections. The high cost of shunt valves is a drawback to their use worldwide. To enable hands-free speech, different types of tracheostoma valve have been developed. These valves are fixed to the skin or to the tracheostoma by means of an intra-tracheal device. An HME filter is used to protect the airway and maintain physiological balance. Such devices are only suitable for a selected group of patients as fixation to the skin or trachea can be a major problem. Speaking and coughing cause pressure increases, which often result in mucous leakage and disconnection of the valve and/or HME filter. Recommendations are made for future improvements in fixation techniques.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)804-813
Number of pages10
JournalActa oto-laryngologica
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 8 Sept 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Heat and moisture exchange filter
  • Implants
  • Leakage
  • Prosthetic fixation
  • Shunt valve
  • Tissue connector
  • Tracheostoma valve
  • Voice prostheses
  • n/a OA procedure


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