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BACKGROUND: In our study we evaluated from an oncological and psychological point of view, a group of patients who had previously undergone total laryngectomy and candidates for the placement of a vocal prosthesis, which allows to recover the voice using the air that passes from the trachea to the esophagus, thus vibrating a segment of the cervical esophagus. For the placement of the prosthesis and the oncological follow-up, we used the support of videoendoscopy, to exclude any recurrence or secondary tumors. At the same time, we subjected patients to a psychological evaluation before and after the implantation of the prostheses, to understand the behavioral changes in the two phases, and the possible achievement of the result of total autonomy, social reintegration, and recovery of oral communication, in the post-surgical phase.
METHODS: We performed a complete esophagogastroduodenoscopy and psychological evaluation on 42 patients who had previously undergone a total laryngectomy, before proceeding to the creation of a tracheoesophageal fistula and the placement of a phonatory prosthesis. After six months, we re-evaluated the same patients, both from an oncological and psychological point of view.
RESULTS: At the preimplantation control of the prosthesis, in endoscopy we detected three neoplastic relapses that did not allow the placement of a prosthesis, and four patients who had grade B esophagitis according to the Los Angeles classification, in the remaining 35 patients there were no complications. At the psychological evaluation, most of the patients had psychosocial disorders, with phenomena of anxiety and depression. At the check-up six months after implantation, none of the patients had relapses, and the voice prosthesis was not fully functional in a single patient. From a psychological point of view, voice recovery has significantly improved relationships both in the family and in the social sphere.
CONCLUSIONS: Our experience has confirmed the interesting and advantageous use of videoendoscopy in patients undergoing total laryngectomy and candidates for the placement of a tracheoesophageal vocal prosthesis, in the evaluation of neoplastic relapses and secondary lesions of the esophagus. The role of the psychologist both in the pre and post prosthetic phase is fundamental in assessing the discomfort of these patients by helping them solve some problems such as isolation and anxiety.