Friday, February 27, 2015

Post Operative Symptoms / Difficulty Swallowing

In August of this year I underwent cervical laminectomy and fusion. The left side of my throat has a sensation of something being stuck when I swallow. All tests come up clear of any obstruction. Would this just leave a muscle or nerve problem? It definitely interferes with my breathing and at times more than at others. Physical activity seems to exacerbate the problem, especially if it involves using my arms lifting or pushing. Is it possible that this, with time, will ease and allow my breathing to become easier?


Barbara Messing, MA, CCC-SLP, BCS-S replies...

Thank you for posting your question to our Head and Neck Q&A forum.

The symptoms you describe are commonly listed as potential post operative symptoms that may occur up to several weeks post operatively. For persistent symptoms as you have described: difficulty breathing and the sensation of something stuck in your throat when you swallow [tightness in throat, difficulty swallowing] are symptoms that should be reevaluated by your surgeon. If difficulty breathing and tightness in your throat worsens, you should seek immediate medical assistance or call 911.

In general terms, your symptoms may be related to post operative edema/swelling, nerve injury or mechanical factors from the fusion/plate. A Modified Barium Swallow Study performed by a Speech Pathologist and Radiologist is recommended to evaluate your swallow function and assess potential impact of structural changes. Endoscopy should be performed to visualize your throat [hypopharynx]. This can be performed by a Speech Pathologist and/or an Otolaryngologist/Laryngologist [Flexible Endoscopic Evaluation .

I recommend you go to this website for further information: http://www.csrs.org/patients/printed-materials/.  There you will find patient materials that may be helpful to you.

I also recommend that you follow up with your surgeon for additional information and possible further evaluation.

Barbara Messing, MA, CCC-SLP, BCS-S
Clinical Specialist in Head & Neck Rehabilitation
Board Certified in Swallowing and Swallowing Disorders

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