Tracheostomy is one of the earliest recorded surgeries reported in medical literature. It is a procedure where an opening is created between the skin and trachea (windpipe) to help someone breathe better and/or to bypass an obstruction in the upper airway. A tube is placed in that opening to keep it open and patients breathe through this. Many times, a ventilator (breathing machine) may need to be used to provide the patient with the ability to breath. Tracheostomies are not always permanent and may just be a way to help someone recover more quickly. Typically, a tracheostomy tube can be removed without the need for further surgery.
Care for the tracheostomy tube varies but most certainly involves changing the tracheostomy tube routinely, changing the inner part of the tracheostomy tube, suctioning and cleaning. You will be taught how to care for the tracheostomy tube and what to do in the case of an emergency by members of the ENT/Head and Neck Surgery team. Most people can speak, eat, and drink with a tracheostomy tube in place but it may take some time before you are able to do so. Once again, circumstances differ depending on each individual’s situation.