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Electrolarynx

An electrolarynx is a battery operated machine that produces sound for you to create a voice.

After surgery to remove the whole of your voice box (total laryngectomy), you are no longer able to speak in the normal way. But there are different ways you can communicate and learn to speak again. 

Types of communication

The type of communication you have after a total laryngectomy depends on:

  • your situation
  • the type and amount of surgery you had
  • your preferences

A type that is often used is called electrolarynx. But there are other ways to communicate, such as oesophageal speech and voice prosthesis.

Electrolarynx

An electronic larynx (electrolarynx), is a battery operated machine that produces sound for you to create a voice. There are many different makes and types, but they are usually about the size of a small electric razor.

How to use it

You hold the machine against your neck, or fit a small tube into the corner of your mouth. When you press the button on the machine, it makes sound. If you move your tongue and mouth you can form the sounds into words.

The electrolarynx might be the best speech method for you in case:

  • you cannot have a voice prosthesis (TEP) for medical reasons
  • you did not have a voice prosthesis put in at the time of your surgery, but you are waiting to have one put in later
Photograph showing an example of an electrolarynx

To be able to use an electrolarynx, you need training from a speech and language therapist and plenty of practice.

The speech has a mechanical sound to it but most people can make themselves understood.

Some of the machines have buttons to vary the pitch or tone of the sound made by the electronic larynx. This makes your voice sound more varied. Your speech and language therapist will advise you on the best type for your situation and can arrange for you to have an electrolarynx on loan.

Last reviewed: 
31 Jul 2018
  • The Royal Marsden Manual of Clinical Nursing Procedures

    L. Dougherty and S. Lister, 9th edition, 2015

  • Prosthetic Surgical Voice Restoration (SVR): The role of the speech and language therapist

    Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists, 2010

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