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What do I need to know about a tracheotomy?

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

How do I prepare for a tracheotomy?

Your healthcare provider will talk to you about how to prepare for surgery. He may tell you not to eat or drink anything after midnight on the day of your surgery. He will tell you what medicines to take or not take on the day of your surgery.

What will happen during a tracheotomy?

You may get general anesthesia to keep you completely asleep or local anesthesia to numb your neck. 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.

What are the risks of a tracheotomy?

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.

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 healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. 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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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.