What is a radical neck dissection? when is it done?

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What is a radical neck dissection? The surgeon removes a block of tissue from the collarbone to the jaw and from the front to the back of the neck. The large muscle on the side of the neck that is used for rotating, flexing or extending the neck is also taken out, along with the major vein on the side of the neck. Sometimes, a less drastic operation, called a supraomohyoid neck dissection is done. This takes out only the lymph nodes, the tissue surrounding the nodes and a muscle at the front of the neck. Another technique, called a functional neck dissection, saves the muscles of the neck, taking out only the lymph nodes and tissues surrounding them.
What kind of incision is made with a radical neck dissection? The incision depends upon what the surgery is for. It can run from below the ear to the collarbone. Everything in the front of the neck on one side or on both sides may be removed. This may include the lymph nodes, blood vessels, nerves, and the salivary gland under the jawbone.

How long will I be in the hospital if the tumor is benign?

It is usually a very short stay, a day or two or overnight. The sutures can then be removed in the surgeon's office. You can resume full activities almost immediately.

Why don't you do the biopsy in your office by removing the tissue under local anesthesia that is, the way a dentist removes a tooth?

This is an operative procedure because the tumor may be deep and there may be many blood vessels around it. Is is much safer and technically more appropriate to do it with all the hospital nursing and instrument facilities. In this way one can minimize bleeding and infection. From a practical point of view and in some cases, there is no reason why your suggestion cannot be carried out in a facility specially equipped for that purpose. It would certainly save hospital beds. There is a method of drill biopsy for breast masses that is done on an ambulatory basis, but this approach has not yet found broad acceptance in this country.

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