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Tracheostomy is an artifically-created hole that helps provide a new breathing pathway for individuals with obstructed or impaired original route of breathing. This hole is created with the help of a surgical procedure called tracheotomy.

Tracheostomy is created in the trachea, which is the windpipe located in front of the neck. The surgery to create a tracheostomy is conducted in case of patients requiring a long-term breathing support with the help of a ventilator machine. However, the hole may also be created under situations when the airway gets choked and threatens the life of the patient.

Who needs tracheostomy?

Patients with obstructed breathing require tracheostomy so that they can breathe normally. Typically, patients with one of the following conditions are required to tracheostomy:

ï‚· Paralysis or other neurological conditions that makes it impossible to cough up throat secretion

ï‚· Throat cancer

ï‚· Vocal cord paralysis

ï‚· Chronic lung disease, diaphragm dysfunction or chest wall injury

ï‚· Severe injury to the neck and head, resulting in breathing obstruction

ï‚· When breathing tube cannot be put through mouth

ï‚· Obstructive sleep apnea

ï‚· Presence of birth defect in the airway

In addition to the aforementioned cases, tracheostomy is also conducted in emergency situations and before a major surgery to assist breathing during the recovery of the patient.

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Before the Treatment

Before planned procedure, the doctor may advise you to not to drink or eat anything at least 12 hours before the surgery. However, this condition does not apply if tracheostomy is to be performed in an emergency setting.

How it is Performed

The surgery is performed under the influence of general or local anesthesia, depending on whether it is a planned surgery or an emergency procedure. The surgeon makes a small cut just below the Adam’s apple. The incision cuts through the outer cartilage of the wind pipe. The hole is opened to fit a tracheostomy tube.

The tube will be attached to your neck with the help of a band and the wounded skin is allowed to heal after the surgery. The doctor will also guide you on how to take care of the trachostomy tube and the wound.


After tracheostomy surgery, you will slowly adjust to breathing through the tube and with a little practice, you will be able to talk and make sounds. In certain cases, a valve is attached to the tube that permits talking by allowing the air within the tube to exit through the nose and mouth.

During the healing of the wound, you can expect to get your daily nutrition through a feeding tube or an intravenous injection. After the site has healed completely, you are ready to eat by yourself again or with the help of a therapist who helps you regain control of facial muscles to chew and swallow food.

Tracheostomy: Risks and Complications

Every medical procedure has some risks and complications involved and creation of tracheostomy is no different. However, there are more complications when tracheostomy is performed in an emergency setting and not in a hospital standing, such as at the location of the severe accident leading to neck to head injury.

There are some immediate risks associated with tracheostomy, including bleeding, mistake in placing tracheostomy tube, hematoma formation, damage to the trachea, pneumothorax and subcutaneous emphysema.

On the other hand, there are a few complications associated with long term placement of tracheostomy as well. Some of these complications include:

ï‚· Infection

ï‚· Bacterial colonization leading to diseases such as pneumonia

ï‚· Trachea may get narrowed or there may be an abnormal tissue formation

ï‚· Tracheostomy tube may get obstructed or displaced from trachea

ï‚· Fluids or food may enter the lungs because of creation of gap between trachea and esophagus

Patients may experience some level of discomfort after getting tracheostomy. They are advised to contact doctor in case they experience any form of swelling, redness, pain, bleeding or breathing difficulty after the procedure.

Pros of Tracheostomy:

ï‚· Best solution to breathing in case of emergency

ï‚· Excellent solution to long term mechanical breathing

Cons of Tracheostomy:

ï‚· Tracheostomy may become infected or obstructed

ï‚· Serious complications may take place after procedure

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