Rinsing pipettes are used to clean the valve of the voice prosthesis and the PE segment.
Many laryngectomees suffer from viscous mucus in the mouth, throat and esophagus, especially if they have undergone radiation therapy. This dense mucus can block the valve of the voice prosthesis and stick to the mucus membranes of the PE segment. This may make talking extremely difficult, but is remedied by rinsing with water.
To achieve this, clean tap water is drawn into the rinsing pipette and the pipette inserted through the tracheostoma onto the voice prosthesis. The water is now squirted through the voice prosthesis into the esophagus. This cleans and moistens the valve of the voice prosthesis and the stuck-on mucus in the PE segment. Care must be taken to ensure that the rinsing pipette is positioned properly on the voice prosthesis (mirror), as otherwise there is a risk of accidentally rinsing the trachea as well. The pipette is to be disinfected regularly.
It is not essential to rinse with a rinsing pipette, and in fact it should only be done if patients find it pleasant and helpful.
Some manufacturers include a rinsing pipette with their voice prostheses, whereas others offer them as an optional extra.