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The Costa del Sol hospital can now implant prostheses to replace vocal chords

One of the operations to put the phonatory prosthesis in place at the Costa del Sol hospital.
One of the operations to put the phonatory prosthesis in place at the Costa del Sol hospital. / SUR
  • It is the second hospital in the province to use this technique, which enables cancer patients whose larynx has been removed to speak again

Patients whose larynx is removed will now be able to speak perfectly normally again, thanks to a new phonatory prosthesis. The Costa del Sol hospital has begun to perform these operations, and is only the second hospital in Malaga province to use the technique.

These operations are being carried out by the Marbella hospital's department, on patients whose larynx has been removed due to cancer. This type of surgery enables them to recover their voice.

The phonatory prosthesis is an instrument which is put in place during the operation to remove the larynx or immediately afterwards, through a simple procedure. The result is a voice with a great ability to communicate, "quite similar to the natural tone, with no metallic effect, and it eliminates the social stigma which is suffered by many of the patients who have had this surgery," say sources at the hospital.

This new device, which is smaller and easy to manage, replaces the vocal chords and "it means the patients can lead a completely normal life, because the device enables them to speak," they say.

Although it is easy to use, this prosthesis requires discipline from the patients, with careful daily hygiene care as well as monitoring by the hospital. After a period of six to 12 months, depending on its condition, the device needs to be replaced but this does not involve surgery as it can be done easily as an out-patient.

So far, three patients have been fitted with a phonatory prosthesis at the Costa del Sol hospital, and they are attending sessions to learn how to use it and begin to speak. They are also taught how to look after the device.

Specialist training

Juan Miguel Palomeque, Emilia López and Francisco Muñoz, doctors at the Cervical Pathology and Oncology unit at the Costa del Sol, are applying this technique after receiving training from specialist Óscar Cazorla at the Virgen de la Victoria hospital in Malaga, which is a benchmark in Andalucía for this type of technique. Dr Cazorla has collaborated with these first operations and trained the team from the Costa del Sol hospital.

Motivation

The inclusion of this new technique was partly motivated by this doctor, who says she discovered how effective it was during a talk. "I went on a course about this type of prosthesis and saw one of our patients, who had undergone surgery 32 years earlier, giving a talk on how he had completely recovered his life since they gave him the phonatory prosthesis. I realised that we need to provide all the resources possible so that our patients can recover their lives after surgery. It's exciting to see how, after several years, they can start to speak again just a week after being given the prosthesis," she says.

For his part, Dr Palomeque says that the oncology and cervical pathology unit at the hospital has worked hard on incorporating this technique "to give the patients the ability to communicate again and improve the quality of life in cases where they are not able to develop a correct esophageal or erigmophonic voice, or they want a more fluid and better quality voice," he explains.