The suprahyoid pharyngotomy is a well-recognized surgical approach to the base of the tongue. However, its use has been widely criticized for squamous cell carcinomas. Some surgeons believe this approach offers limited exposure and that violating the preepiglottic space increases the risk of recurrence.
A retrospective study of squamous cell carcinoma of the base of tongue was carried out to address these surgical concerns. Nineteen patients presented with T1 or T2 lesions, 13 of whom underwent suprahyoid pharyngotomy with neck dissection. Those with nodal disease underwent adjunctive irradiation therapy and those with extracapsular spread also received subsequent adjuvant chemotherapy. At present, all patients are disease free. The suprahyoid pharyngotomy is an ideal surgical approach in the management of T1 or T2 squamous cell carcinoma of the base of tongue.