Head & Neck Surgery
The doctors at Valley Health – Ear, Nose and Throat are specially trained to deal with the diseases that affect the thyroid, parathyroids, salivary glands, larynx, oral cavity and related tumors of the head and neck. This includes medical and surgical treatment. They are experts in the surgical techniques needed to preserve the delicate blood vessels and nerves in the head and neck. By preserving these structures normal eating and speaking are maintained.
Types of Surgeries
- Thyroid. The thyroid gland is situated in the front of the neck and controls the body’s metabolism. Frequently it develops nodules or becomes larger due to abnormal functioning of the gland or the formation of benign or malignant tumors. Typically, patients present with a neck mass, trouble swallowing or difficulty breathing. Depending on the cause of the formation of the nodules, treatment may be medical or surgical. Medical treatment may simply involve taking replacement thyroid hormone to “shrink” the nodule. If surgery is required, it is important to have a surgeon familiar with the important structures near the thyroid gland, including the nerves to the voice box. The four parathyroid glands are intimately associated with the thyroid gland and nerves to the voice box. They control the level of calcium in the body. Patients typically present with elevated levels of calcium found on routine lab tests; they also complain of being tired, have trouble concentrating, and form kidney stones. Often they will have a neck mass. Surgical removal of the abnormal gland will correct the problem.
- Salivary Glands. The salivary glands are six glands around the neck and face that produce saliva; there are three on each side. The parotid gland is the largest and is found in front of the ear, while the paired submandibular and sublingual glands live beneath the jaw bone. Most commonly, these glands swell due to infection –when this occurs appropriate antibiotics, heat and fluids will treat the problem. Unfortunately, these glands often have tumors in them and thus require surgical excision. Again, there are several important structures that are closely associated with these glands, including the nerve that moves the face and the nerves that move and give taste to the tongue. It is crucial that your surgeon is familiar with these structures.
- Larynx & Oral Cavity. Tumors of the larynx and oral cavity can present hoarseness or a change in voice, difficulty swallowing, pain, difficulty breathing and/or a neck mass. When benign, these lesions are removed with complete relief of symptoms. When they are malignant, treatment may include radiation, surgery and/or chemotherapy.
- Tumors of the Neck. Neck masses other than those discussed previously include lymph nodes and congenital cysts. Lymph nodes get bigger in response to infections or cancer, while cysts are usually benign but present from birth and get larger as the patient grows. Both of these require removal to make a diagnosis and for treatment as they can affect the other structures in the neck such as nerves and blood vessels.
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