This study assessed the achievement of postoperative swallowing in patients undergoing partial laryngectomy surgery. Oropharyngeal swallow efficiency was used to predict time to achievement of outcome. Fifty‐five patients were followed for up to 1 year in two hemilaryngectomy and four supraglottic laryngectomy groups. Within 10 days of healing, a videofluoroscopic evaluation enabled the measurement of swallowing efficiency. Times to achievement of oral intake, removal of feeding tube, preoperative diet, and normal swallow were analyzed using actuarial curves. Patients with hemilaryngectomies achieved swallowing rehabilitation sooner than patients with nonextended supraglottic laryngectomies (p < .05) who, in turn, achieved swallowing function sooner than did patients undergoing supraglottic laryngectomies with tongue base resection (p < .05). Median time to attainment of preoperative diet in these three groups was 28 days, 91 days, and > 335 days, respectively. Higher early postoperative oropharyngeal swallow efficiency was related to earlier achievement of oral food intake and of preoperative diet (p < .05). Results show that the time course for swallowing rehabilitation covers an extended postoperative period. In some surgical groups, functional swallowing and eating may be achieved within 3 months of surgery while for other types, significant impairment remains up to 9 months postoperatively. Early radiographic assessments of swallowing function are useful in predicting the time to swallow recovery. Recovery of swallowing ability may be delayed in patients who have not achieved oral intake before radiotherapy is started.
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