A tracheoesophageal puncture, or TEP, may be an option for patients who undergo a laryngectomy (removal of the larynx/voice box) either because they have laryngeal cancer (cancer of the voice box) or because they have a non-functioning larynx, from radiation or trauma.
To perform a tracheoesophageal puncture, a head and neck surgeon places a small, one-way valve between the trachea and the esophagus, either during the laryngectomy or during a secondary surgery that may be performed any time after the laryngectomy. The valve allows for air to travel from the wind pipe (trachea) into the esophagus, but it blocks food, saliva and liquids from the airway. As air enters the esophagus, it produces a vibratory signal that the patient may use for voicing.
After undergoing a tracheoesophageal puncture, our patients work with a trained speech therapist to learn how to speak using the vibratory signal produced by the valve.
Learn more about surgical options for throat cancer.
Tracheoesophageal puncture is offered at our cancer hospital in Tulsa.