Type of Surgery

Information

Doctor Certified

Last updated: 11/24/2009

Risks

Immediate risks

There are several short-term risks associated with tracheotomies. Severe bleeding is one possible complication. The voice box or esophagus may be damaged during surgery. Air may become trapped in the surrounding tissues...

or the lung may collapse. The tracheotomy tube can be blocked by blood clots, mucus, or the pressure of the airway walls. Blockages can be prevented by suctioning, humidifying the air, and selecting the appropriate tracheotomy tube. Serious infections are rare.


Long-term risks

Over time, other complications may develop following a tracheotomy. The windpipe itself may become damaged for a number of reasons, including pressure from the tube, infectious bacteria that forms scar tissue, or friction from a tube that moves too much. Sometimes the opening does not close on its own after the tube is removed. This risk is higher in tracheotomies with tubes remaining in place for 16 weeks or longer. In these cases, the wound is surgically closed. Increased secretions may occur in patients with tracheostomies, which require more frequent suctioning.


High-risk groups

The risks associated with tracheotomies are higher in the following groups of patients:

  • children, especially newborns and infants
  • smokers
  • alcoholics
  • obese adults
  • persons over 60
  • persons with chronic diseases or respiratory infections
  • persons taking muscle relaxants, sleeping medications, tranquilizers, or cortisone

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For a tracheotomy, an incision is made in the skin just above the sternal notch (A). Just below the thyroid, the membrane covering the trachea is divided (B), and the trachea itself is cut (C). A cross incision is made to enlarge the opening (D), and a tracheostomy tube may be put in place (E). (Illustration by GGS Inc.) For a tracheotomy, an incision is made in the skin just above the sternal notch (A). Just below the thyroid, the membrane covering the trachea is divided (B), and the trachea itself is cut (C). A cross incision is made to enlarge the opening (D), and a tracheostomy tube may be put in place (E). (Illustration by GGS Inc.)




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Other Information

Tracheotomy and tracheostomy are surgical procedures on the neck to open a direct airway through an incision in the trachea (the windpipe). They are performed by paramedics, veterinarians, emergency physicians and surgeons. Both surgical and percutaneous techniques are now widely used.

While tracheostomy may have possibly been portrayed on ancient Egyptian tablets, the first correct description of the tracheotomy operation for suffocating patients was described by Ibn Zuhr in the 12th century, and the currently used surgical tracheostomy technique was described in 1909 by Dr. Chevalier Jackson from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.


From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tracheotomy

Other Information

ENT surgeons diagnose and treat conditions of the ears, nose, throat, head and neck, and undertake some cosmetic procedures.


-Dr David Luff

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