What is a Tracheostomy?

January 27, 2023

A tracheotomy is a procedure which consists of creating an opening in the neck for direct access to the windpipe (trachea). The opening is called a tracheostomy or sometimes a tracheostoma.

A tracheostomy can be either temporary or permanent and there are several reasons for having the procedure, all involving restricted airways. It may be performed during an emergency when your airway is blocked, or when a disease or other problem makes normal breathing impossible.

There are many potential reasons for the purpose of a tracheostomy, including easier breathing and secretion management. A tracheostomy can be either temporary, 2-4 weeks, or more long-term, moth – years, or even in some cases permanent, depending on the needs and reason for having it.

After a tracheotomy you will have a tracheostoma, with a tracheostomy tube entering your windpipe (trachea). This will change your way of breathing and speaking.

A tracheostomy may be needed if someone:

  • Has an obstruction in your upper airway (nose, mouth or throat).
  • Has difficulty swallowing.
  • Has trouble breathing due to injury, swelling or lung conditions.
  • Undergo airway reconstruction following surgery on your larynx (voice box) or pharynx (throat).
  • Needs mechanical ventilation (breathing machine).
  • A tracheostomy tube is inserted into the tracheostoma to keep it open.
  • As a result of the tracheotomy, there is a new way of breathing where you will breathe through the tracheostomy tube and breathing through your nose and mouth will either be reduced or completely bypassed.