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- Damage to the larynx (voice box)
- Trouble swallowing
- Scarring of the neck
- Lung collapse
- Blockage of the tracheotomy tube
A tracheotomy or “trach” is a surgical procedure that creates an opening in your neck and windpipe (trachea). A tube is placed in the opening. This lets air into your lungs.
Why is it done?
A trach is done when there are problems with your airway. This means you are not getting enough air to your lungs. The cause may be a facial injury to your nose or mouth, or a throat blockage. Either of these can prevent you from breathing normally through your mouth.
Trachs are also done to remove secretions from your airway. Sometimes patients have a medical problem and need a machine to breathe for them. At these times, a trach allows the patient to be connected to the machine.
Tracheotomies are generally planned and performed in an operating room under anesthesia. But it may also be performed on an emergency basis. First, a small cut is made in the lower part of the neck between the top of your breastbone and your Adam’s apple.
Your surgeon then goes through the first cut and makes a second cut in the trachea. A tube is then placed through the cuts into the trachea. The tube allows the person to breathe and acts like a windpipe. The tube is then hooked up to oxygen or a breathing machine, bringing oxygen to the lungs.
It will take several days to adapt to breathing through the trach tube. Talking is also possible after training and practice. The tracheotomy may be temporary. If so, then the tube is removed.
With a permanent tracheotomy, the hole in the neck stays open. Normal activity is encouraged once patients leave the hospital. However, the patient will need help at home to manage the tracheotomy. Strenuous activity should be avoided for 6 weeks.