What is Tracheostomy?

A tracheotomy is a medical procedure which is performed in the neck (windpipe) to open a direct airway that helps the patient breathe.

A tracheostomy is needed if you cannot breathe normally because of an underlying health condition or a blocked airway.

A tracheostomy can be temporary or permanent, depending on the patient’s requirement.

What Are the Medical Reasons for A Tracheostomy Procedure?

Your doctor may suggest a tracheostomy to help you breathe and deliver oxygen to lungs. The following conditions may require tracheostomy:

  • Obstruction in your upper airway (nose, mouth, or throat)
  • Swallowing Difficulties
  • Lung Infections
  • Blocked airways
  • Breathing Problems
  • Other medical conditions

What Happens During Tracheostomy?

  • Tracheostomy will be performed under general anesthesia in most cases. This means you will fall asleep and not feel any pain.
  • Your surgeon will create an opening in your neck to fit a tracheostomy tube inside.
  • Your surgeon will secure the tube in place with the help of sutures.
  • Oxygen is then supplied through the tube to help you breathe

What Are the Possible Complications of Tracheostomy?

Certain groups, including the elderly, babies, and smokers, are more prone to complications. 

Possible complications include:

  • Severe bleeding
  • Infection of the trachea (windpipe)
  • Damage to the thyroid gland
  • Trapped air under the skin
  • Scarring of the neck
  • Blockage of the tracheostomy tube due to blood clots or mucus 
  • Impaired swallowing

What to Expect After a Tracheostomy?

  • Instructions on changing, and cleaning the tube will be given in case of permanent tracheostomy
  • Tracheostomy can cause speaking difficulties (consult a speech therapist if necessary)
  • A feeding tube may be inserted to provide nutrients in case of swallowing difficulties
  • The doctor will check and remove the tube if you restore normal breathing