Research Article| Volume 60, ISSUE 3, P217-222, March 2007

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Use of an ‘elephant trunk’ shunt for voice restoration: a decade of experience in voice restoration using a free jejunal graft in patients who have undergone laryngopharyngoesophagectomy

Published:January 20, 2007DOI:


      Although the structural integrity of the hypopharynx can be readily restored in individuals who have undergone laryngopharyngoesophagectomy by transferring a segment of the jejunum by a microsurgical technique, rehabilitation is often hindered by voice loss. The outcomes achievable with conventional approaches of artificial voice box reconstruction have been, generally speaking, unsatisfactory. A new reconstructive technique was devised to create a connection between the tracheal stump and the neo-hypopharynx to shunt airflow for phonation. The technique consisted of modifying one of two jejunal segments nourished by a single vascular pedicle to make a side mucosal tube resembling an elephant's trunk. With the larger end of one segment connected to the tracheal stump, the side arm having a smaller calibre was connected to the neo-oesophagus which was reconstructed with the second jejunal segment. Upon recovery from the surgery, the patient was trained for phonation by shunting the airflow into the neo-pharyngoesophagus. A total of 39 individuals underwent the elephant trunk shunt procedure for voice restoration at our hospital during the past 10 years. Although phonation was restored in 28 patients who had survived the original disease, the speech was assessed in 11. The mean duration of follow up was 5.6 years. The quality of speech was considered to be adequate in all. The rehabilitation of individuals who had undergone laryngopharyngoesophageal resection was enhanced and the quality of life was improved by voice restoration. That objective is attainable by incorporating a jejunal segment that shunts airflow to the jejunal pouch, thereby enabling phonation.


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