Following total laryngectomy, the voice prosthesis is used to connect the trachea (airway) and the esophagus (food tube), allowing for air flow for sound production and verbal communication while preventing food and liquid from entering into the lungs. The specific prosthesis is selected based on the patient’s clinical indication and need.
The prosthesis is a one-way valve that wears out over time, requiring replacement. If it is not replaced in a timely manner, communication could be disrupted and risk for medical complications related to aspiration (foreign material entering into the lungs) may occur. On average, a prosthesis lasts 3-6 months. However, there is great variability with the life of the prosthesis (less than a month to greater than 12 months).
Prosthesis cost ranges from $70 to $350. Due to the down turn in the economy and changes in insurance coverage of the voice prosthesis, many of our patients struggle to pay for the voice prosthesis.
The Laryngectomy Prosthesis Fund serves to benefit head and neck cancer patients who have had a total laryngectomy (removal of the voice box). Patients who meet certain financial criteria and are unable to purchase replacement tracheoesophageal voice prostheses are eligible for these funds.