• Suprahyoid pharyngotomy has been utilized as the standard approach to tongue base cancer not involving the larynx or mandible for the last 6 years at the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Boston, Mass. Review of 15 patients revealed that all had advanced disease (stage III and stage IV); 14 cases involved the tongue base, and one was on the posterior pharyngeal wall. By following the hyoepiglottic ligament, precise entry into the vallecula was routine. No injuries of vital neurovascular structures or compromised tumor margins were present; one tracheotomy was performed. Primary closure without the use of flaps was accomplished in 14 of 15 patients. No locoregional recurrences were found, with a median follow-up of 25 months. However, two patients died of another unrelated cancer, and two patients died of a myocardial infarction unrelated to their surgery. Suprahyoid pharyngotomy is a familiar approach often utilized during laryngectomy. In our experience, it provides excellent exposure of the oropharynx, can be combined with a transoral approach to avoid mandibulotomy without precluding this option, allows for simple reconstruction, and has a low complication rate.
(Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1991; 117:757-760)