Neck dissection is surgery to remove the lymph nodes in your neck. Cells from cancers in the mouth or throat can travel in the lymph fluid and get trapped in your lymph nodes. The lymph nodes are removed to prevent cancer from spreading to other parts of your body.
You were likely in the hospital for 2 to 3 days. To help get ready for going home, you likely received help with:
Your doctor will give you a prescription for pain medicines. Get it filled when you go home so you have the medicine when you need it. Take your pain medicine when you start having pain. Waiting too long to take it will allow your pain to get worse than it should.
Do not take aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), or naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn). These medicines may increase bleeding.
You will have staples in the wound and mild redness and swelling for the first couple of weeks after surgery.
You may have a drain in your neck when you leave the hospital. The nurse will tell you how to care for it.
Healing time will depend on how much tissue was removed.
You can eat your usual foods unless your doctor has given you a special diet.
If pain in your neck and throat is making it hard to eat:
Keep an eye out for swallowing problems:
You will need to learn to care for your wound.
You will need to see your doctor for a follow up visit in 7 to 10 days. The staples will be removed at this time.
Call your doctor if:
Radical neck dissection - discharge; Modified radical neck dissection - discharge; Selective neck dissection - discharge
Robbins KT, Samnt S, Ronen O. Neck dissection. In: Flint PW, Haughey BH, Lund LJ, et al, eds. Cummings Otolaryngology: Head & Neck Surgery. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2010:chap 121.
Updated by: Seth Schwartz, MD, MPH, Otolaryngologist, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, Washington. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.
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