Tracheotomy Change

What Is a Tracheostomy?

A tracheostomy is a medical procedure — either temporary or permanent — that involves creating an opening in the neck in order to place a tube into a person’s windpipe. The tube is inserted through a cut in the neck below the vocal cords. This allows air to enter the lungs. Breathing is then done through the tube, bypassing the mouth, nose, and throat. A tracheostomy is commonly referred to as a stoma. This is the name for the hole in the neck that the tube passes through.

Why a Tracheostomy Is Performed

A tracheostomy is performed for several reasons, all involving restricted airways. It may be done during an emergency when your airway is blocked. Or it could be used when a disease or other problem makes normal breathing impossible.

Conditions that may require a tracheostomy include:

  • anaphylaxis
  • birth defects of the airway
  • burns of the airway from inhalation of corrosive material
  • cancer in the neck
  • chronic lung disease
  • coma
  • diaphragm dysfunction
  • facial burns or surgery
  • infection
  • injury to the larynx or laryngectomy
  • injury to the chest wall
  • need for prolonged respiratory or ventilator support
  • obstruction of the airway by a foreign body
  • obstructive sleep apnea
  • paralysis of the muscles used in swallowing
  • severe neck or mouth injuries
  • tumors
  • vocal cord paralysis