Tracheotomy

What you should know

A tracheotomy is surgery to help you breathe through an opening in your trachea.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

Risks

You may bleed more than expected or get an infection. Air may get trapped under your skin through the opening in your neck. You may have trouble breathing if the trach tube is blocked by blood clots or mucus. You may have trouble swallowing after surgery. Your trachea may narrow and decrease the amount of air that gets into your lungs. The trach tube may also rub on your trachea or the blood vessels in your neck. This may create an abnormal hole that could cause bleeding or allow food and fluid to get into your lungs. Your body may react to the tube by forming tissue lumps around or near the opening. The trach tube may come out on its own.

Getting Ready

The week before your surgery:

  • Write down the correct date, time, and location of your surgery.

  • Arrange a ride home. Ask a family member or friend to drive you home after your surgery or procedure. Do not drive yourself home.

  • Ask your caregiver if you need to stop using aspirin or any other prescribed or over-the-counter medicine before your procedure or surgery.

  • Bring your medicine bottles or a list of your medicines when you see your caregiver. Tell your caregiver if you are allergic to any medicine. Tell your caregiver if you use any herbs, food supplements, or over-the-counter medicine.

The night before your surgery:

Ask caregivers about directions for eating and drinking.

The day of your surgery:

  • Ask your caregiver before you take any medicine on the day of your surgery. Bring a list of all the medicines you take, or your pill bottles, with you to the hospital. Caregivers will check that your medicines will not interact poorly with the medicine you need for surgery.

  • You or a close family member will be asked to sign a legal document called a consent form. It gives caregivers permission to do the procedure or surgery. It also explains the problems that may happen, and your choices. Make sure all your questions are answered before you sign this form.

  • Caregivers may insert an intravenous tube (IV) into your vein. A vein in the arm is usually chosen. Through the IV tube, you may be given liquids and medicine.

  • An anesthesiologist will talk to you before your surgery. You may need medicine to keep you asleep or numb an area of your body during surgery. Tell caregivers if you or anyone in your family has had a problem with anesthesia in the past.

Treatment

What will happen:

Your healthcare provider will make a small incision in front of your neck and in your trachea. Your healthcare provider may instead use a needle to put a small hole into your trachea. He will then place a guidewire into your trachea and widen the hole. He may use a bronchoscope to take pictures of the inside of your airway. A bronchoscope is a tube with a light and camera on the end. A metal or plastic tube will then be placed into the incision or hole in your neck. This tube is called a tracheotomy tube or trach tube.

After your surgery:

You will be taken to a room to rest until you are fully awake. The tracheotomy tube may be connected to a breathing machine to help you breathe. You will be monitored closely for any problems. Do not get out of bed until your healthcare provider says it is okay. You will then be able to go home or be taken to your hospital room.

Contact a caregiver if

  • You cannot make it to your surgery.

  • You have a fever.

  • You get a cold or the flu.

  • You have questions or concerns about your surgery.

Seek Care Immediately if

  • You have increased trouble breathing.

  • You have sudden chest pain.

© 2014 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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