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JAMA Otolaryngology Patient Page
June 25, 2020

Laryngectomy Care in the COVID-19 Era

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, The Pennsylvania State University, College of Medicine, Hershey
JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. Published online June 25, 2020. doi:10.1001/jamaoto.2020.1523

A total laryngectomy is a surgery where the larynx (voice box) is removed, resulting in permanent changes to breathing and an inability to speak. The trachea (airway) is separated from the natural respiratory/digestive tract and reattached to the front of the neck (stoma), leaving patients with a laryngectomy as total neck breathers. These patients may be at increased risk during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. COVID-19 is very contagious and may spread by air. It can even be spread from someone who is not visibly sick yet. Given the changes in their airway anatomy, patients with a laryngectomy may be able to spread the virus more easily, requiring extra safety practices.

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