Speech and swallowing function was examined in 11 patients who underwent surgical resection of greater than 1 cm of tongue base, tonsil, and faucial arch with mandible resected on the side of the tumor and reconstruction by primary closure. Preoperatively and 1 and 3 months post-healing, high fidelity audio recordings were made of a 6- to 7-minute conversational speech sample, the sentence version of The Fisher Logemann Test of Articulation Competence was administered, and videofluoroscopic assessment of oropharyngeal swallow was conducted. All subjects exhibited changes in speech and swallowing function postoperatively, with little improvement during the study. Patients exhibited greatest difficulty on stop and fricative consonants and bolus propulsion. Comparison with patients who received anterior tongue and floor of mouth resections and distal flap reconstruction revealed consistently better speech performance by the tonsil/base of tongue patients, although the same phonemes were affected. Swallow function was equally affected in the two groups. Results are discussed in terms of locus of surgical resection, nature of reconstruction, and need for swallowing therapy.
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