Neck Dissection

A neck dissection is a procedure performed to remove lymph nodes in the neck that either have cancer or are at high risk for having cancer.

The picture below demarctes the different levels of the neck that contain lymph nodes. Only selctive levels are examined during surgery and are tailored to the specific type of cancer that requires treatment.





  • Has a cancer diagnosis
  • Suspect cancer


  • Performed under general anesthesia.
  • Takes 1.5-2.5 hours
  • Performed at a hospital and observed at least 1-2 nights.


  • Pain - controlled with medications
  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Nerve inury - nerves encountered are the faicl nerve (controls lip movement), spinal accesory nerve (controls shoulder movement), and hypoglossal nerve (controls tongue movment). Your surgeon will discuss these risk as they vary by patient.
  • Chyle leak - leak of chyle fluid (lymph fluid) that may require temporary dietary change and/or closure with another procedure.

Post-operative Care

  • Regular diet on the same day.
  • Basic wound care.
  • Limited physical activity for 2 weeks.