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Radical Neck Dissection

Radical neck dissection

Definition

Radical neck dissection is a surgical operation used to remove cancerous tissue in the head and neck.


Purpose

The purpose of radical neck dissection is to remove lymph nodes and other structures in the head and neck that are likely or known to be malignant. Variations on neck dissections exist, depending on the extent of the cancer. A radical neck dissection removes the most tissue. It is performed when the cancer has spread widely in the neck. A modified neck dissection removes less tissue, and a selective neck dissection even less.


Demographics

Experts estimate that there are approximately 5,00010,000 radical neck dissections in the United States each year. Men and women undergo radical neck dissections at about the same rate.


Description

Cancers of the head and neck (sometimes inaccurately called throat cancer) often spread to nearby tissues and into the lymph nodes. Removing these structures is one way of controlling the cancer.

Of the 600 lymph nodes in the body, approximately 200 are in the neck. Only a small number of these are removed during a neck dissection. In addition, other structures such as muscles, veins, and nerves may be removed during a radical neck dissection. These include the sternocleidomastoid muscle (one of the muscles that functions to flex the head), internal jugular (neck) vein, submandibular gland (one of the salivary glands), and the spinal accessory nerve (a nerve that helps control speech, swallowing, and certain movements of the head and neck). The goal is always to remove all the cancer, but to save as many components surrounding the nodes as possible.

An incision is made in the neck, and the skin is pulled back (retracted) to reveal the muscles and lymph nodes. The surgeon is guided in what to remove by tests performed prior to surgery and by examination of the size and texture of the lymph nodes.


Diagnosis/Preparation

This operation should not be performed if cancer has metastasized (spread) beyond the head and neck, or if the cancer has invaded the bones of the cervical vertebrae (the first seven bones of the spinal column) or the skull. In these cases, the surgery will not effectively contain the cancer.

Radical neck dissection is a major operation. Extensive tests are performed before the operation to try to determine where and how far the cancer has spread. These may include lymph node biopsies, computed tomography (CT) scans, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, and barium swallows. In addition, standard preoperative blood and liver function tests are performed, and the candidate will meet with an anesthesiologist before the operation. The candidate should tell the anesthesiologist about all drug allergies and all medication (prescription, nonprescription, or herbal) that are presently being taken.

Aftercare

A person who has had a radical neck dissection will stay in the hospital several days after the operation, and sometimes longer if surgery to remove the primary tumor was performed at the same time. Drains are inserted under the skin to remove the fluid that accumulates in the neck area. Once the drains are removed and the incision appears to be healing well, people are usually discharged from the hospital, but will require follow-up doctor visits. Depending on how many structures are removed, a person who has had a radical neck dissection may require physical therapy to regain use of the arm and shoulder.


Risks

The greatest risk in a radical neck dissection is damage to the nerves, muscles, and veins in the neck. Nerve damage can result in numbness (either temporary or permanent) to different regions on the neck and loss of function (temporary or permanent) to parts of the neck, throat, and shoulder. The more extensive the neck dissection, the more function a person is likely to lose. As a result, it is common following radical neck dissection for people to have stooped shoulders, limited ability to lift one or both arms, and limited head and neck rotation and flexion due to the removal of nerves and muscles. Other risks are the same as for all major surgery: potential bleeding, infection, and allergic reaction to anesthesia.

Normal results

Normal lymph nodes are small and show no cancerous cells under a microscope. Abnormal lymph nodes may be enlarged and show malignant cells when examined under a microscope.


Morbidity and mortality rates

The mortality rate for radical neck dissection can be as high as 14%.

Morbidity rates are somewhat higher and are due to bleeding, post-surgery infection, and medicine errors.


Alternatives

Alternatives to radical neck dissection depend on the reason for the proposed surgery. Most alternatives are far less acceptable. Radiation and chemotherapy may be used instead of a radical neck dissection in the case of cancer. Alternatives for some surgical procedures may reduce scarring, but are not as effective in the removal of all pathological tissue. Chemotherapy and radiation or altered fractionated radiotherapy are reasonable alternatives.

See also Carotid endarterectomy; Parathyroidectomy; Thyroidectomy.


Resources

books

bland, k. i., w. g. cioffi, and m. g. sarr. practice of general surgery. philadelphia: saunders, 2001.

braunwald, e., d. l. longo, and j. l. jameson. harrison's principles of internal medicine, 15th edition. new york: mcgraw-hill, 2001.

goldman, l., and j. c. bennett. cecil textbook of medicine, 21st edition. philadelphia: saunders, 1999.

schwartz, s. i., j. e. fischer, f. c. spencer, g. t. shires, and j. m. daly. principles of surgery, 7th edition. new york: mcgraw hill, 1998.

townsend, c., k. l. mattox, r. d. beauchamp, b. m. evers, and d. c. sabiston. sabiston's review of surgery, 3rd edition. philadelphia: saunders, 2001.

periodicals

agrama, m. t., d. reiter, m. f. cunnane, a. topham, and w. m. keane. "nodal yield in neck dissection and the likelihood of metastases." otolaryngology head and neck surgery 128, no.2 (2003): 185190.

cmejrek, r. c., j. m. coticchia, and j. e. arnold. "presentation, diagnosis, and management of deep-neck abscesses in infants." archives of otolaryngology head and neck surgery 128, no.12 (2002): 13611364.

ferlito, a., et al. "is the standard radical neck dissection no longer standard?" acta otolaryngolica 122, no.7 (2002): 792795.

kamasaki, n., h. ikeda, z. l. wang, y. narimatsu, and t. inokuchi. "bilateral chylothorax following radical neck dissection." international journal of oral and maxillofacial surgery 32, no.1 (2003): 9193.

myers, e. n., and b. r. gastman. "neck dissection: an operation in evolution: hayes martin lecture." archives of otolaryngology head and neck surgery 129, no.1 (2003): 1425.

ohshima, a., et al. "is a bilateral modified radical neck dissection beneficial for patients with papillary thyroid cancer?" surgery today 32, no.12 (2002): 10271030.

wang, l. f., w. r. kuo, c. s. lin, k. w. lee, and k. j. huang. "space infection of the head and neck." kaohsiung journal of medical sciences 18, no.8 (2002): 386392.

organizations

american college of surgeons. 633 north st. clair street, chicago, il 60611-32311. (312) 202-5000, fax: (312) 202-5001. e-mail: <postmaster@facs.org>. <http://www.facs.org>.

american academy of otolaryngologyhead and neck surgery. one prince st., alexandria, va 22314-3357. (703) 836-4444. <http://www.entnet.org/index2.cfm>.

american cancer society. 1599 clifton road ne, atlanta, ga 30329. (800) 227-2345. <http://www.cancer.org>.

american osteopathic college of otolaryngologyhead and neck surgery. 405 w. grand avenue, dayton, oh 45405. (937) 222-8820 or (800) 455-9404, fax: (937) 222-8840. info@aocoohns.org

other

amersham health. [cited april 7, 2003] <http://www.amershamhealth.com/medcyclopaedia/volume%20vi%202/neck%20dissection.asp>.

baylor college of medicine. [cited april 7, 2003] <http://www.bcm.tmc.edu/oto/grand/120293.html>.

eastern virginia medical school. [cited april 7, 2003] <http://www.voice-center.com>.

medical algorithms project. [cited april 7, 2003] <http://www.medal.org/docs_ch37/doc_ch37.23.html>.

thyroidcancer.net . [cited april 7, 2003] <http://www.thyroidcancer.net/topics/what+is+a+neck+dissection?cms_session=4ebe4755df4793bda647c0bf21fd977f>.

university of washington department of surgery. [cited april 7, 2003] <http://depts.washington.edu/soar/abstract/ab16.htm>.


L. Fleming Fallon, Jr. MD, DrPH

WHO PERFORMS THE PROCEDURE AND WHERE IS IT PERFORMED?



A radical neck dissection is usually performed by a surgeon with specialized training in otolaryngology, head and neck surgery. Occasionally, a general surgeon will perform a radical neck dissection. The procedure is performed in a hospital under general anesthesia.

QUESTIONS TO ASK THE DOCTOR



  • What tests will be performed to determine if the cancer has spread?
  • Which parts of the neck will be removed?
  • How will a radical neck dissection affect daily activities after recovery?
  • What is the likelihood that all of the cancer can be removed with a radical neck dissection?
  • Are the involved lymph nodes on one or both sides of the neck?
  • What will be the resulting appearance after surgery?
  • How will my speech and breathing be affected?
  • Is the surgeon board certified in otolaryngology head and neck surgery?
  • How many radical neck procedures has the surgeon performed?
  • What is the surgeon's complication rate?

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"Radical Neck Dissection." Gale Encyclopedia of Surgery: A Guide for Patients and Caregivers. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Radical Neck Dissection." Gale Encyclopedia of Surgery: A Guide for Patients and Caregivers. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 21, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/medicine/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/radical-neck-dissection

"Radical Neck Dissection." Gale Encyclopedia of Surgery: A Guide for Patients and Caregivers. . Retrieved August 21, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/medicine/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/radical-neck-dissection

Radical Neck Dissection

Radical neck dissection

Definition

Radical neck dissection is an operation used to remove cancerous tissue in the head and neck.

Purpose

The purpose of radical neck dissection is to remove lymph nodes and other structures in the head and neck that are likely or proven to be malignant. Variations on neck dissections exist depending on the extent of the cancer. A radical neck dissection removes the most tissue. It is done when the cancer has spread widely in the neck. A modified neck dissection removes less tissue, and a selective neck dissection even less.

Precautions

This operation should not be done if cancer has metastasized (spread) beyond the head and neck, or if the cancer has invaded the bones of the cervical vertebrae (the first seven vertebrae of the spinal column) or the skull. In these cases, the surgery will not effectively contain the cancer.

Description

Cancers of the head and neck (sometimes inaccurately called throat cancer) often spread to nearby tissues and into the lymph nodes. Removing these structures is one way of controlling the cancer.

Of the six hundred lymph nodes in the body, about 200 are in the neck. Only a small number of these are removed during a neck dissection. In addition, other structures such as muscles, veins, and nerves may be removed during a radical neck dissection. These include the sternocleidomastoid muscle (one of the muscles that functions to flex the head), internal jugular (neck) vein, submandibular gland (one of the salivary glands), and the spinal accessory nerve (a nerve that helps control speech, swallowing and certain movements of the head and neck). The goal is always to remove all the cancer but to save as many components surrounding the nodes as possible.

Radical neck dissections are done in a hospital under general anesthesia by a head and neck surgeon. An incision is made in the neck, and the skin is pulled back to reveal the muscles and lymph nodes. The surgeon is guided in what to remove by tests done prior to surgery and by examination of the size and texture of the lymph nodes.

Preparation

Radical neck dissection is a major operation. Extensive tests are done before the operation to try to determine where and how far the cancer has spread. These may include lymph node biopsies, CT (computed tomography ) scans, magnetic resonance imaging scans, and barium swallows. In addition, standard pre-operative blood and liver function tests are performed, and the patient will meet with an anesthesiologist before the operation. The patient should tell the anesthesiologist about all drug allergies and all medication (prescription, non-prescription, or herbal) that he or she is taking.

Aftercare

A person who has had a radical neck dissection will stay in the hospital several days after the operation, and sometimes longer if surgery to remove the primary tumor was done at the same time. Drains are inserted under the skin to remove the fluid that accumulates in the neck area. Once the drains are removed and the incision appears to be healing well, patients are usually discharged from the hospital, but will require follow-up doctor visits. Depending on how many structures are removed, a person who has had a radical neck dissection may require physical therapy to regain use of the arm and shoulder.

Risks

The greatest risk in a radical neck dissection is damage to the nerves, muscles, and veins in the neck. Nerve damage can result in numbness (either temporary or permanent) to different regions on the neck and loss of function (temporary or permanent) to parts of the neck, throat, and shoulder. The more extensive the neck dissection, the more function the patient is likely to lose. As a result, it is common following radical neck dissection for a person to have stooped shoulders, limited ability to lift the arm, and limited head and neck rotation and flexion due to the removal of nerves and muscles. Other risks are the same as for all major surgery: potential bleeding, infection, and allergic reaction to anesthesia.

Normal results

Normal lymph nodes are small and show no cancerous cells under the microscope.

Abnormal results

Abnormal lymph nodes may be enlarged and show malignant cells when examined under the microscope.

Resources

ORGANIZATIONS

American Cancer Society. National Headquarters, 1599 Clifton Road NE, Atlanta, GA 30329. (800) ACS-2345). <http://www.cancer.org>.

Cancer Information Service. National Cancer Institute, Build ing 31, Room 10A19, 9000 Rockville Pike, Bethesda, MD 20892. (800) 4-CANCER. <http://www.nci.nih.gov/cancerinfo/index.html>.

OTHER

The Voice Center at Eastern Virginia Medical School. (Febru ary 17, 2001). <http://www.voice-center.com>. (June 7, 2001).

John Thomas Lohr

Tish Davidson, A.M.

KEY TERMS

Barium swallow

Barium is used to coat the throat in order to take x-ray pictures of the tissues lining the throat.

Computed tomography (CT or CAT) scan

Using x rays taken from many angles and computer modeling, CT scans help size and locate tumors and provide information on whether they can be surgically removed.

Lymphatic system

Primary defense against infection in the body. The tissues, organs, and channels (similar to veins) that produce, store, and transport lymph and white blood cells to fight infection.

Lymph nodes

Small, bean-shaped collections of tissue found in lymph vessels. They produce cells and proteins that fight infection and filter lymph. Nodes are sometimes called lymph glands.

Malignant

Cancerous. Cells tend to reproduce without normal controls on growth and form tumors or invade other tissues.

Metastasize

Spread of cells from the original site of the cancer to other parts of the body where secondary tumors are formed.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

MRI uses magnets and radio waves to create detailed cross-sectional pictures of the interior of the body.

QUESTIONS TO ASK THE DOCTOR

  • What tests will you do to determine if my cancer has spread?
  • Which parts of my neck will be removed?
  • How will a radical neck dissection affect my daily activities after recovery?
  • What is the likelihood that all my cancer can be removed with a radical neck dissection?
  • Are the lymph nodes on one or both sides of my neck involved?
  • What will my appearance be like after surgery?
  • How will my speech and breathing be affected?

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Radical Neck Dissection." Gale Encyclopedia of Cancer. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Radical Neck Dissection." Gale Encyclopedia of Cancer. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 21, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/medicine/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/radical-neck-dissection-0

"Radical Neck Dissection." Gale Encyclopedia of Cancer. . Retrieved August 21, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/medicine/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/radical-neck-dissection-0

Radical Neck Dissection

Radical Neck Dissection

Definition

Radical neck dissection is an operation used to remove cancerous tissue in the head and neck.

Purpose

The purpose of radical neck dissection is to remove lymph nodes and other structures in the head and neck that are likely or proven to be malignant. Variations on neck dissections exist depending on the extent of the cancer. A radical neck dissection removes the most tissue. It is done when the cancer has spread widely in the neck. A modified neck dissection removes less tissue, and a selective neck dissection even less.

Precautions

This operation should not be done if cancer has metastasized (spread) beyond the head and neck, or if the cancer has invaded the bones of the cervical vertebrae (the first seven vertebrae of the spinal column) or the skull. In these cases, the surgery will not effectively contain the cancer.

Description

Cancers of the head and neck (sometimes inaccurately called throat cancer) often spread to nearby tissues and into the lymph nodes. Removing these structures is one way of controlling the cancer.

Of the 600 hundred lymph nodes in the body, about 200 are in the neck. Only a small number of these are removed during a neck dissection. In addition, other structures such as muscles, veins, and nerves may be removed during a radical neck dissection. These include the sternocleidomastoid muscle (one of the muscles that functions to flex the head), internal jugular (neck) vein, submandibular gland (one of the salivary glands), and the spinal accessory nerve (a nerve that helps control speech, swallowing and certain movements of the head and neck). The goal is always to remove all the cancer but to save as many components surrounding the nodes as possible.

Radical neck dissections are done in a hospital under general anesthesia by a head and neck surgeon. An incision is made in the neck, and the skin is pulled back to reveal the muscles and lymph nodes. The surgeon is guided in what to remove by tests done prior to surgery and by examination of the size and texture of the lymph nodes.

Preparation

Radical neck dissection is a major operation. Extensive tests are done before the operation to try to determine where and how far the cancer has spread. These may include lymph node biopsies, CT (computed tomography) scans, MRI scans, and barium swallows. In addition, standard pre-operative blood and liver function tests are performed, and the patient will meet with an anesthesiologist before the operation. The patient should tell the anesthesiologist about all drug allergies and all medication (prescription, non-prescription, or herbal) that he or she is taking.

Aftercare

A person who has had a radical neck dissection will stay in the hospital several days after the operation, and sometimes longer if surgery to remove the primary tumor was done at the same time. Drains are inserted under the skin to remove the fluid that accumulates in the neck area. Once the drains are removed and the incision appears to be healing well, patients are usually discharged from the hospital, but will require follow-up doctor visits. Depending on how many structures are removed, a person who has had a radical neck dissection may require physical therapy to regain use of the arm and shoulder.

Risks

The greatest risk in a radical neck dissection is damage to the nerves, muscles, and veins in the neck. Nerve damage can result in numbness (either temporary or permanent) to different regions on the neck and loss of function (temporary or permanent) to parts of the neck, throat, and shoulder. The more extensive the neck dissection, the more function the patient is likely to lose. As a result, it is common following radical neck dissection for a person to have stooped shoulders, limited ability to lift the arm, and limited head and neck rotation and flexion due to the removal of nerves and muscles. Other risks are the same as for all major surgery: potential bleeding, infection, and allergic reaction to anesthesia.

Normal results

Normal lymph nodes are small and show no cancerous cells under the microscope.

Abnormal results

Abnormal lymph nodes may be enlarged and show malignant cells when examined under the microscope.

Resources

ORGANIZATIONS

American Cancer Society. 1599 Clifton Road NE, Atlanta, GA 30329. (800) ACS-2345). http://www.cancer.org.

Cancer Information Service. National Cancer Institute, Building 31, Room 10A19, 9000 Rockville Pike, Bethesda, MD 20892. (800) 4-CANCER. http://www.nci.nih.gov/cancerinfo/index.html.

OTHER

The Voice Center at Eastern Virginia Medical School. February 17, 2001. [cited June 7, 2001]. http://www.voice-center.com.

KEY TERMS

Barium swallow Barium is used to coat the throat in order to take x-ray pictures of the tissues lining the throat.

Computed tomography (CT or CAT) scan Using × rays taken from many angles and computer modeling, CT scans help size and locate tumors and provide information on whether they can be surgically removed.

Lymphatic system Primary defense against infection in the body. The tissues, organs, and channels (similar to veins) that produce, store, and transport lymph and white blood cells to fight infection.

Lymph nodes Small, bean-shaped collections of tissue found in lymph vessels. They produce cells and proteins that fight infection and filter lymph. Nodes are sometimes called lymph glands.

Malignant Cancerous. Cells tend to reproduce without normal controls on growth and form tumors or invade other tissues.

Metastasize Spread of cells from the original site of the cancer to other parts of the body where secondary tumors are formed.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) MRI uses magnets and radio waves to create detailed cross-sectional pictures of the interior of the body.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Radical Neck Dissection." Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine, 3rd ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Radical Neck Dissection." Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine, 3rd ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 21, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/medicine/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/radical-neck-dissection-1

"Radical Neck Dissection." Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine, 3rd ed.. . Retrieved August 21, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/medicine/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/radical-neck-dissection-1