• Total laryngectomy;
  • postoperative airway humidification;
  • external humidifier;
  • heat and moisture exchanger;
  • pulmonary rehabilitation;
  • Level of Evidence: 1a



Assessment of immediate postoperative airway humidification after total laryngectomy (TLE), comparing the use of an external humidifier (EH) with humidification through a heat and moisture exchanger (HME).

Study Design:

Randomized controlled trial (RCT).


Fifty-three patients were randomized into the standard (control) EH (N = 26) or the experimental HME arm (N = 27). Compliance, pulmonary and sleeping problems, patients' and nursing staff satisfaction, nursing time, and cost-effectiveness were assessed with trial-specific structured questionnaires and tally sheets.


In the EH arm data were available for all patients, whereas in the HME arm data were incomplete for four patients. The 24/7 compliance rate in the EH arm was 12% and in the HME arm 87% (77% if the four nonevaluable patients are considered noncompliant). Compliance and patients' satisfaction were significantly better, and the number of coughing episodes, mucus expectoration for clearing the trachea, and sleeping disturbances were significantly less in the HME arm (P < .001). This was also the case for nursing time and nursing staff satisfaction and preference.


This RCT clearly shows the benefits of immediate postoperative airway humidification by means of an HME over the use of an EH after TLE. This study therefore underlines that HMEs presently can be considered the better option for early postoperative airway humidification after TLE.