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What is a Tracheostomy?

What is a Tracheostomy?

A tracheostomy is a surgical incision made in the front of the neck during an emergency or planned treatment. It creates an airway for those who can't breathe on their own, can't breathe well, or have a blockage that makes breathing difficult. If an illness, such as cancer, is predicted to create breathing problems in the near future, a tracheostomy may be required.

A tracheostomy is a procedure that involves making a hole in the trachea (windpipe). Through the hole, a tube is introduced into the trachea. After that, the person breaths through the tube.

A tracheostomy may be required for a short period of time (temporary), or it may be required for the rest of a person's life (permanent):

  • When the windpipe is blocked or injured, a temporary tracheostomy may be required. It can also be used in situations where a person requires a breathing machine (ventilator), such as severe pneumonia, a significant heart attack, or a stroke.
  • If part of the trachea needs to be removed due to an illness like cancer, a permanent tracheostomy may be required.

A tracheostomy is frequently referred to as a "percutaneous" technique, meaning that it can be performed without requiring open surgery. A tracheostomy is frequently performed as a "bedside procedure" immediately in the room for patients who are in the emergency room or a critical care unit where they may be continuously monitored. It can also be done as part of a planned surgical operation, such as during cancer surgery, when other issues are being addressed.

You can see part of the trachea lining (the mucosa) when looking at a tracheostomy opening (stoma), which appears similar to the inside lining of your cheek. The stoma will appear as a hole on the front of your neck and maybe pink or red in color. It's moist and warm, and it secretes mucus.

What is the purpose of a tracheostomy?


It's crucial to understand how a tracheostomy affects the trachea (windpipe). A laryngectomy, on the other hand, affects the larynx (voice box). A tracheostomy is used to assist someone breathes, whereas a laryngectomy is used to remove the larynx and detach it from the airway.

Air is usually breathed (enters) through the nose or mouth, then passed through the trachea and into the lungs. The air is then expelled (exits) from the lungs, returning through the trachea and out the nose or mouth.

If a person's lungs are still functional after a tracheostomy, they breathe through the tube that is directly in the trachea rather than through the nose or mouth. A breathing machine is used to help push air into and out of the tracheostomy tube if a person's lungs are not performing effectively, or if the muscles or nerves that aid with breathing are impaired by disease.

Tracheostomies come in a variety of shapes and sizes.

A tracheostomy might be temporary or permanent, depending on the issue being treated.


If a tracheostomy is intended to be temporary, the length of time it is left in place is determined by the reason for the procedure and how long the condition will take to resolve. For example, if a tracheostomy is required due to the risk of radiation therapy damaging the trachea, the trachea must heal before the tracheostomy can be removed. If a patient requires mechanical ventilation, the condition that produced the tracheostomy must be resolved before can be removed.

If the tracheostomy was performed owing to a blockage, accident, or sickness, the tube will almost certainly be required for a long time.

If part of the trachea needs to be removed or if the issue does not improve,

Cuffed or uncuffed tracheostomy tubes are available. The cuff is a closure inside the trachea that inflates to prevent air from leaking around the tube. It compels all air into and out of the lungs to pass through the tube, preventing saliva and other liquids from entering the lungs by accident.

  • When a patient is on a ventilator or requires the assistance of a breathing machine, a cuffed tube is frequently employed. The health care staff monitors the cuff pressure and makes modifications to the breathing machine as needed.
  • Patients who do not require a ventilator or the assistance of a breathing machine are given uncuffed tubes. Some air can still flow around an uncuffed tube and up through the trachea to the larynx.

Depending on the type of tracheostomy you have and why it was done, you may or may not have an inner cannula. An inner cannula is a liner that can be locked into place and then unlocked for cleaning.

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