Secondary Lymphedema Post Laryngectomy Complicated by Osteo-Radionecrosis

By Phyllis Tubbs-Gingerich, RN, BSN, LE, CLT-LANA

Diagnosed with cancer of larynx after many years’ smoking, Dennis’ cancer treatment effects consisted of: severe swelling head, neck, upper torso (ant. & post); a permanent tracheostomy due to non-functioning larynx; multiple surgeries & skin grafts to heal hypovascular subcutaneous tissues and severe scar adhesions. Conventional attempts at reduction and relieving symptoms failed.

Dennis symptoms – severe headaches, bulging of soft tissues around eyes, scar adhesions and keloiding on upper chest, scar sensitivity, inability to sleep, severe swelling and fibrosis of chin & lower cheeks, breakdown of skin, very reduced range of motion of neck, severe coughing spells and reduced ability to swallow food.

February 22, 2000, Protocol set for Lymphedema and Directional Flow Compression Therapy:  Manual Lymph Drainage to move fluids into collateral pathways; Custom designed Directional Flow Head and Vest units for compression; intensive skin care; patient specific exercises while in units; swells spots for fibrotic areas.

Dennis passed away in late 2004 following complications of metastatic cancer.