Head and Neck Surgery
What is head and neck surgery?
Head and neck surgery treats conditions of the ear, nose, and throat (ENT) and skull. Benign and malignant (cancerous) tumours are the most common conditions treated in this type of surgery by a general surgeon.
When should I see a specialist for head and neck surgery?
When appropriate, head and neck surgery may help patients for:
● Hearing and balance disorders
● Ear disorders and diseases
● Head and neck tumours and cancer
● Sinus and nasal problems
● Facial nerve disorders
Did you know?
Head and neck cancers can appear to look like deep neck abscesses. It is therefore important to get these promptly treated to increase your chance of a successful outcome.¹
What are the risks of head and neck surgery?
Depending on where in the head or neck your surgery is, there are some general risks to consider. Some of these can include:
● Scar tissue from the surgery,
● or adverse reactions or complications from anaesthesia.
More specific complications may include:
● A temporary loss in the ability to chew, swallow or talk
● Swelling of the lymph nodes which could lead to further problems
● or nerve damage in the neck.
How do I prepare for head and neck surgery?
If you have been scheduled for head and neck surgery, there will usually be some preparation involved before the day of your operation. This may vary depending on the type of surgery you are having, but you can usually expect the following:
You may need to stop taking certain medications, as some might increase your risk of complications. Talk to your general surgeon or anaesthesiologist about any medication you are taking.
You will usually be expected to stop eating and drinking a few hours, or even a day, before surgery. Your surgeon will advise you on the specifics of this.
What can I expect during head and neck surgery?
Depending on the type of surgery you will receive, you may get either a local or general anaesthetic.
If you are scheduled to receive a general anaesthetic, you will be suitably prepared by your anaesthesiologist who will then administer anaesthesia so your general surgeon can continue with the planned procedure.
You will be connected to an echocardiogram (ECG) machine as well as a blood pressure machine to monitor your heart rate and circulation. Once you are asleep, you might also need a tube inserted into your airway to assist your breathing through your operation.
The surgical team will then proceed with the planned surgery. Because of the nature of anaesthetic medication, you will not have any memory of the procedure.
What happens after my head and neck surgery?
Following your head and neck surgery, you will be taken to a recovery area where you will be carefully monitored to ensure you wake up safely from the anaesthetic. Once your medical team sees that you are safely awake, you will be moved to a general ward to continue your recovery.
You will also have a drip attached, which allows fluid to be administered into your body to keep you hydrated. If you are in pain, your specialist can prescribe pain medication to keep you comfortable.
You may spend up to 10 days in recovery after a partial hepatectomy, and up to 3 weeks in recovery following a transplant. Your general surgeon will be able to advise you about when you will be able to return to normal duties.Request an appointment with a general surgeon today.
 Soon SR, Kanagalingam J, Johari S, Yuen HW. Head and neck cancers masquerading as deep neck abscesses. Singapore Med J. 2012 Dec; 53(12):840-2.