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

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.

When is a radical neck dissection performed?

A radical neck dissection is performed to remove the tumor and the lymph nodes in the neck. Cancers such as those of the lips, tongue, and larynx sometimes spread to the lymph nodes, requiring them to be removed.

Is a tracheostomy done as part of the operation for radical neck dissection?

A tracheostomy (opening made in the windpipe) is usually necessary if the doctor is going to perform a radical neck dissection. After a few days the tube will be taken out and the opening will close.

Is a radical neck dissection a major operation?

Yes, it is. It may require up to 5 or 6 hours to perform when it is done along with the removal of the primary cancer.

Why is it important to exercise after I have had radical neck dissection?

In a radical neck dissection, the nerve responsible mainly for arm motion, which connects with one of the most important muscles in your neck and upper back, is cut. It makes it harder for you to raise your arm over your head or out to your side. If the surgery is on both sides of your neck, you will probably have some trouble raising both arms. However, there are special exercises which wiil help you get some of the strength back again.

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