A tracheostomy is a surgical procedure to create an opening through the neck into the trachea (windpipe). A tube is usually placed through this opening to provide an airway and to remove secretions from the lungs. This tube is called a tracheostomy tube or trach tube.
General anesthesia is used, unless the situation is critical. In that case, local anesthesia is injected into the area to reduce the discomfort caused by the procedure.
The neck is cleaned and draped. Surgical cuts are made to expose the tough cartilage rings that make up the outer wall of the trachea. The surgeon then creates an opening into the trachea and inserts a tracheostomy tube.
A tracheostomy may be done if you have:
Goldenberg D, Bhatti N. Management of the impaired airway in the adult. In: Cummings CW, Flint PW, Haughey BH, et al, eds. Otolaryngology: Head & Neck Surgery. 4th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2005:chap 106.
Neacy KA. Tracheostomy care. In: Roberts JR, Hedges JR, eds. Clinical Procedures in Emergency Medicine. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier;2009:chap 7.
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