Salvage laryngectomy (SL) is associated with high levels of morbidity. Rates of pharyngocutaneous fistulae (PCF) are as high as 35 % in some series. Patients at highest risk of such complications may be candidates for altered surgical management in terms of additional tissue transfer, or delayed tracheoesophageal puncture. This study investigates the relationship between the time from primary radiotherapy (RT) to salvage surgery and the development of PCF. 26 consecutive patients who underwent SL between 2000 and 2010 were identified from our institutional database. Demographic, staging, treatment and complication data were collected. Subgroup analysis was performed using the Student's t test or Mann-Whitney U test for continuous variables and either Chi-squared test or Fisher's Exact test for categorical variables. 26 patients underwent SL between October 2003 and July 2010. Of these, 15 (58 %) developed a PCF. On analysis of the time between pre-operative RT and surgery, a significant difference was seen, with a mean time of 19.5 months in those who developed a PCF versus 47.0 months in those who did not (p = 0.02). Patient characteristics, treatment, and pathology results were comparable between the two groups. There was no significant difference in distribution of the other covariates between the PCF and non-PCF groups. We reported a high rate of PCF and identified an association between PCF and a short time from primary treatment to salvage surgery. Identifying factors associated with higher rates of post-operative morbidity allows surgeons to adapt surgical planning in an attempt to minimize rates of PCF.