Partial Glossectomy (2023)

A partial glossectomy is the surgical removal of part of the tongue. The procedure is done to identify suspected or known pathologic tissue and remove it. The procedure is performed under general anesthesia. Evaluation before the surgery may include some or all of the following: medical history and physical exam, blood work, biopsy of the tongue, X-ray or CT scan of the chest, and/or CT scan of the mouth and neck.


As with any surgical procedure, there are risks and possible complications involved. Some possible complications include:

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  • Tongue bleeding
  • Infection
  • Airway blockage from swelling and bleeding
  • Trouble swallowing and aspiration of liquids
  • Being unable to speak
  • Weight loss
  • Lingual Nerve Injury
  • Failure of flap—occurs when transplanted skin or flap does not get enough blood flow
  • Recurrence of the mass.

Before the Procedure

  1. Nothing to eat or drink after midnight the evening before the procedure. This includes all food, liquids, water, candy, mints or chewing gum. You may brush your teeth. You will not be able to undergo the surgery if you do not follow these instructions.
  2. Please notify us of all routine medications and significant health history. Take medications as directed with just a sip of water.
  3. A week before the surgery, please avoid aspirin, aspirin-containing products, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, Aleve) or Vitamin E. Please notify our office if you are on any medications that affect bleeding, such as coumadin or warfarin. Please call our office if you have any concerns about any medications. (585-342-2080)
  4. If you have diabetes, ask your doctor if you need to adjust your medicines.
  5. Remove all make-up, jewelry, nail polish, and artificial nails before surgery.
  6. Do not bring valuables to the hospital (cash, credit cards, watches, jewelry, etc.)

After the Procedure

Please follow the instructions below. You will also get additional discharge instructions from the hospital.

Diet: Advance diet from clear liquids (water, popsicles, Jell-O, sherbet, apple and grape juice, Kool-aid, etc.) to full liquids then soft foods then full diet as tolerated. Avoid hot or cold liquids.

Activity: No work, strenuous activity or swimming for two weeks. Avoid bending, lifting, or straining.

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Mouth Care: Gargle several times a day to prevent infection. For the first seven days following the procedure, please mix one tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide in one cup of water. Gargle with this solution after meals, snacks, and at bedtime. You may gently brush your teeth and us a dilute mouth rinse as needed. A prescription for chlorhexidine will be provided.

Medications: Pain in the throat and ears may last up to ten to fourteen days. Take pain medication as prescribed to ease discomfort. You will also be prescribed an antibiotic, and please take the antibiotic for the entire course as prescribed.

Follow-up Visit: You will have a follow-up appointment scheduled for two weeks after surgery. Our office will notify you of your appointment time and date.

In addition, your doctor may have you:

  • Work with a speech therapist to learn to speak and swallow after surgery
  • Begin radiation therapy to treat the cancer if it had not been given before

Please call our office at 585-342-2080 for any of the following:

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  1. Swelling, excessive bleeding, or discharge from the mouth
  2. Inability to eat or drink
  3. Signs of infection, including fever above 101°F and chills
  4. Nausea or vomiting
  5. Pain not relieved by previous instructions.
  6. Difficulty swallowing or choking on foods or liquids.
  7. Any other worrisome symptom.
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What We Do

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Partial Glossectomy? ›

What is a partial glossectomy? A partial glossectomy is an operation to remove part of your tongue. This operation is carried out through your mouth, under general anaesthetic, in the operating theatre. You will be asleep throughout the operation.

What happens after a partial glossectomy? ›

Side effects of a glossectomy

Difficulty speaking, reduced speech intelligibility, loss of speech. Difficulty swallowing. Altered tongue sensations. Salivary fistulas, which are holes that allow saliva to leak into the neck through the floor of the mouth.

Does partial glossectomy affect speech? ›

Partial glossectomy leads to difficulty in tongue-palate articulation during speech, and it becomes difficult for a patient to reach the palate with the tongue to form certain sounds.

What are the complications of a partial glossectomy? ›

Some possible complications include:
  • Tongue bleeding.
  • Infection.
  • Airway blockage from swelling and bleeding.
  • Trouble swallowing and aspiration of liquids.
  • Being unable to speak.
  • Weight loss.
  • Lingual Nerve Injury.
  • Failure of flap—occurs when transplanted skin or flap does not get enough blood flow.

Can you talk after total glossectomy? ›

Can you talk after a glossectomy? It depends on how much of your tongue your surgeon had to remove. People who've had a partial glossectomy may still be able to form most sounds and words. Those who've had a total glossectomy will need to use a pen and paper or technology (such as a tablet or computer) to communicate.

What is the survival rate for glossectomy? ›

Corrected actuarial survival was 51% and 41% at 3 and 5 years, respectively. Functional assessment using the PSS demonstrated significant deficits in speech and deglutition.

What is the success rate of glossectomy? ›

A series published by Lin et al in 2015 showed that 75% of patients undergoing major glossectomy had acceptable swallowing function after reconstruction.

What is a partial glossectomy vs total glossectomy? ›

Partial glossectomy: Part of the tongue is removed. Hemi glossectomy: One side of the tongue is removed, leaving the other side intact. Total glossectomy: The whole tongue is removed. This causes an inability to swallow without getting food/liquids into the lungs (called aspiration).

What is a treatment for carcinoma affecting half of the tongue? ›

The most common treatment is surgery to remove the affected area. You might also have radiotherapy after surgery to try to prevent a cancer from coming back. This is known as adjuvant radiotherapy. Some people with early stage oral tongue cancer might have radiotherapy first.

How long does it take for tongue to heal after surgery? ›

Tongue Surgery Postoperative Instructions

Pain will be present for at least 7-14 days following surgery, but it should improve around two weeks following surgery.

What kind of anesthesia is used for partial glossectomy? ›

Removing a portion of tongue or oral cavity (otherwise known as a partial glossectomy) is performed to identify suspected or known pathologic tissue and remove it. This procedure is performed under general anesthesia, which allows for better visualization of the tongue.

Does the tongue regenerate after surgery? ›

Surgical resections alone create volumetric muscle loss whereby muscle tissue cannot self-regenerate within the tongue. In these cases, the tongue is reconstructed typically in the form of autologous skin flaps.

How do you swallow after a glossectomy? ›

Glossectomy surgery can also affect swallowing. This will depend on the amount of tongue removed. The tongue is needed to control food or liquid in your mouth and push it backwards to swallow. After you have had time to heal, your Doctor or Speech-Language Pathologist will decide how you will manage food and liquid.

How much does a partial glossectomy cost? ›

The oral cancer glossectomy surgery price in hyderabad starts anywhere from ₹235,000 and ends at 5 Lac rupees.

Is glossectomy major surgery? ›

A major glossectomy is an operation which removes a large part or all of the tongue. After this surgery your speech and swallowing may be severely affected. Generally, the more tongue that is taken out because of the tumour, the harder it will be to swallow and speak clearly.

What are the different types of glossectomy? ›

A thorough examination of the terminology used to define surgical removal of tongue cancers identified the following expressions: glossectomy, partial glossectomy, hemiglossectomy, subtotal glossectomy, transoral glossectomy, total glossectomy, cuneiform glossectomy, and compartmental glossectomy.

What is the prognosis of tongue carcinoma? ›

Tongue cancer survival rates

In general, early diagnosis and treatment lead to better outcomes. For tongue cancer, the NCI calculates the five-year relative survival rate as 82.9 percent for localized, 69.4 percent for regional and 41 percent for distant, with a combined rate of 68.1 percent for all stages.

What are the complications after total glossectomy? ›

The risks for glossectomy include those pertinent to most surgical head and neck procedures, including pain, bleeding, infection, sequelae of healing, damage to nearby structures, and the need for possible future procedures.

How do you prepare for a glossectomy? ›

In general, patients should not eat or drink anything (except essential medications) any time after midnight the night before surgery. Patients should tell their doctor if they begin to feel sick before surgery. For a glossectomy specifically, a patient should be prepared for changes in the way they speak and swallow.

Is there such a thing as a tongue transplant? ›

The most common operation to replace a significant portion of the tongue (and the one chosen for Evans) involves using a portion of the patient's forearm to create a flap based on the shape and size of the piece of tongue being removed.

What is the surgical excision of one half of the tongue? ›

Surgical removal of all or part of the tongue.

What is a sentence for glossectomy? ›

The patient underwent bilateral partial glossectomy under general anesthesia. This manuscript emphasises the importance of sign language in rehabilitation strategies in post-glossectomy patients.

How bad is squamous cell carcinoma of the tongue? ›

Tongue squamous cell carcinoma is one of the most aggressive tumours in behaviour. Even at early stages may the patient need to be submitted to a treatment plan consisting of radio/chemotherapy besides surgical removal of the tumour (31).

Does squamous cell carcinoma tongue spread? ›

Carcinoma of tongue is a common site of oral cancer. It usually occurs at mean age of 61.1 years and is more common in males when compared with females. It commonly spreads directly and through lymphatics to the surrounding structures.

Which carcinoma of tongue is most common? ›

Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) of the tongue is the most common oral cancer. Most cases occur on the lateral border of the tongue and only very rarely on the dorsum.

How do you sleep after tongue surgery? ›

Following oral surgery, we recommend that you sleep with your head and shoulders propped up above your heart level. Add an extra pillow or two to your bed or to the place where you will be resting. If you have a recliner, this is also an excellent way to keep your head elevated.

What happens after a cancerous tumor is removed? ›

Most people make a full recovery within a few hours. In some cases, this may take days, particularly in elderly people and those who had memory problems before surgery. Rarely, people have ongoing mental effects (such as fogginess or mild memory loss) for a week or several months after surgery.

What makes your tongue heal faster? ›

Your mouth has a more regular blood flow.

Blood contains cells that are necessary for healing. In addition to a simpler structure, the easy access to blood supply makes it easier to heal your mouth. Mucous tissue is highly vascular, meaning it's very rich in blood vessels.

How do they put you to sleep for oral surgery? ›

Nitrous Oxide (Laughing Gas)

Nitrous Oxide has been the primary means of sedation in dentistry for many years. Nitrous oxide is safe; the patient receives 50-70% oxygen with no less than 30% nitrous oxide. Patients are able to breathe on their own and remain in control of all bodily functions.

What pill do they put under your tongue before surgery? ›

The midazolam-ketamine-ondansetron or MKO Melt is a sublingual tablet that delivers the medication over a 2-minute release period. The effects of conscious sedation are evident after 2 to 3 minutes and peak at about 15 minutes.

How do they put you to sleep for jaw surgery? ›

An intravenous line (IV) is put into a vein in your arm before going to sleep. Medicine to put you to sleep is given through the IV. It is left in so fluids and medicine can be given to you for 12 to 24 hours post- operatively.

Can you eat solid food without a tongue? ›

Technically you can eat without your tongue, but you would have to tilt your head to be able to chew food, and you would have to open up your throat and tilt your head up to swallow, but it would be extremely difficult....

How do you clean your tongue after tongue surgery? ›

Conclusions. Tongue brushing with 3% hydrogen peroxide is a useful method to reduce the number of bacteria on the tongue in patients with gastrointestinal cancer undergoing surgery.

Is it hard to heal your tongue? ›

Most mouth and tongue cuts heal on their own without stitches. Use saltwater rinses and cold compresses to relieve mouth pain and swelling and to reduce the chance of infection.

Can you taste after tongue reconstruction? ›

Only a few studies have evaluated the impact of glossectomy on taste. Taste buds exist not only in the tongue but also in the epiglottis, pharynx, larynx, soft palate, and uvula. Patients are therefore not expected to lose their sense of taste after glossectomy.

Who performs a glossectomy? ›

The procedure is performed by oncology surgeons, who are experts in treating head, neck, and throat cancer. There are several aspects that make glossectomy (tongue removal) a complex procedure, including the tongue's high muscle density and the fact that it performs numerous functions related to digestion and speech.

What are the after effects of tongue surgery? ›

Taste abnormalities, swallowing difficulty, and numbness in the tongue are not uncommon after tongue surgery, usually temporary, and rarely permanent.

How long does it take for your tongue to heal after surgery? ›

In healthy adults, minor injuries tend to heal within 2 weeks. It can take 4–8 weeks for absorbable suture to dissolve. Children may heal even more quickly. A 2018 study found that it takes around 13 days for tongue wounds with stitches to heal in children.

How long does it take for your tongue to heal after a partial glossectomy? ›

It can take a few months for your tongue to recover. With exercises and careful attention to speech, most people find they can be clearly understood when talking and can also manage to use the telephone well. The Speech and Language Therapist will offer you advice and support to help you adapt to any changes.

Why does my tongue feel funny after surgery? ›

The extraction process can traumatise the nerve, causing a lingering numb sensation. Numbness may also persist if the anaesthetic needle touches or penetrates the nerve that connects the tongue to the mouth. The anaesthetic solution can also inflame the mouth's nerves, causing lingering numbness in the tongue.

How do I know if my tongue is healing? ›

If there are no complications, complete healing usually takes around 4–6 weeks. If there is still swelling after a month, or if the piercing becomes painful or swollen after a period of seeming fine, this may signal an infection or other problem.

How do you speak after tongue surgery? ›

People who have all of their tongue removed will need to write and/or use technology such as mobile devices (e.g., tablets, ipod) to help with communication. You will also learn gestures to help you speak. After you go home, you can have therapy with a Speech-Language Pathologist to help improve your speech.


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