Partial Glossectomy

A partial glossectomy is the surgical removal of part of the tongue. The procedure is done to identify suspected or known pathologic tissue and remove it. The procedure is performed under general anesthesia. Evaluation before the surgery may include some or all of the following: medical history and physical exam, blood work, biopsy of the tongue, X-ray or CT scan of the chest, and/or CT scan of the mouth and neck.


As with any surgical procedure, there are risks and possible complications involved. Some possible complications include:

  • Tongue bleeding
  • Infection
  • Airway blockage from swelling and bleeding
  • Trouble swallowing and aspiration of liquids
  • Being unable to speak
  • Weight loss
  • Lingual Nerve Injury
  • Failure of flap—occurs when transplanted skin or flap does not get enough blood flow
  • Recurrence of the mass.

Before the Procedure

  1. Nothing to eat or drink after midnight the evening before the procedure. This includes all food, liquids, water, candy, mints or chewing gum. You may brush your teeth. You will not be able to undergo the surgery if you do not follow these instructions.
  2. Please notify us of all routine medications and significant health history. Take medications as directed with just a sip of water.
  3. A week before the surgery, please avoid aspirin, aspirin-containing products, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, Aleve) or Vitamin E. Please notify our office if you are on any medications that affect bleeding, such as coumadin or warfarin. Please call our office if you have any concerns about any medications. (585-342-2080)
  4. If you have diabetes, ask your doctor if you need to adjust your medicines.
  5. Remove all make-up, jewelry, nail polish, and artificial nails before surgery.
  6. Do not bring valuables to the hospital (cash, credit cards, watches, jewelry, etc.)

After the Procedure

Please follow the instructions below. You will also get additional discharge instructions from the hospital.

Diet: Advance diet from clear liquids (water, popsicles, Jell-O, sherbet, apple and grape juice, Kool-aid, etc.) to full liquids then soft foods then full diet as tolerated. Avoid hot or cold liquids.

Activity: No work, strenuous activity or swimming for two weeks. Avoid bending, lifting, or straining.

Mouth Care: Gargle several times a day to prevent infection. For the first seven days following the procedure, please mix one tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide in one cup of water. Gargle with this solution after meals, snacks, and at bedtime. You may gently brush your teeth and us a dilute mouth rinse as needed. A prescription for chlorhexidine will be provided.

Medications: Pain in the throat and ears may last up to ten to fourteen days. Take pain medication as prescribed to ease discomfort. You will also be prescribed an antibiotic, and please take the antibiotic for the entire course as prescribed.

Follow-up Visit: You will have a follow-up appointment scheduled for two weeks after surgery. Our office will notify you of your appointment time and date.

In addition, your doctor may have you:

  • Work with a speech therapist to learn to speak and swallow after surgery
  • Begin radiation therapy to treat the cancer if it had not been given before

Please call our office at 585-342-2080 for any of the following:

  1. Swelling, excessive bleeding, or discharge from the mouth
  2. Inability to eat or drink
  3. Signs of infection, including fever above 101°F and chills
  4. Nausea or vomiting
  5. Pain not relieved by previous instructions.
  6. Difficulty swallowing or choking on foods or liquids.
  7. Any other worrisome symptom.