Tracheostomy Procedures

Tracheostomy Procedure

When you’re seeking medical advice, the last thing you need is for your doctor to start talking about conditions and surgeries that sound like they’re being spoken in another language. It can be scary if it happens to you, or when the patient is a loved one.

The purpose of this blog is to help you understand one of the most unpleasant words in the English language: tracheostomy. What does it mean? Why would a doctor need to do it? How will it change your or your loved one’s life?

The following is an overview of what is a tracheostomy procedure and what you can do to prepare for life after it.

What Is a Tracheostomy?

A tracheostomy is a surgery on a person’s neck to provide air passage to the trachea (also known as the windpipe). It’s performed on patients who will need a ventilator to assist them with breathing. The opening is called a tracheostomy.

Depending on the patient’s health, he or she may need the artificial air passage temporarily or permanently. If the need for it is temporary, once removed, the incision will heal into a scar. The process of removing this tube is called tracheal decannulation.

When Is a Tracheostomy Procedure Necessary?

There are plenty of reasons a person may need a tracheostomy. If they’ve experienced severe trauma (due to a car crash, sports injury, or any other type of accident), and their regular breathing pathways are obstructed, he or she will need to find another way to breathe.

People with throat cancer may also need a tracheostomy. This is because tumor growth may block a patient’s windpipe, making it difficult or painful to breathe. Other complications that may result in needing the surgery include severe swelling of the trachea.

Also, patients who may need a tracheostomy include those with fractured vertebrae, epiglottitisvocal cord paralysis (VCP), or anaphylaxis, among a long list of other ailments.

What’s Involved in the Tracheostomy Procedure?

The patient will undergo general anesthesia. The surgeon will then make an incision on the person’s neck, and pull back the neck muscles to expose the trachea.

The doctor will then cut a second incision on the trachea and insert a tracheostomy tube. The opening on the trachea is called a stoma. This is where the mechanical ventilation will be connected.

Tracheostomy in Children

Healthy kids need to be monitored regularly. Children with tracheostomies need constant, around the clock supervision. This is because you’ll need to do things such as:

  • Monitoring your child’s breathing (you can do this with an apnea monitor)
  • Making sure that no water gets into the tracheostomy tube (trach tube)
  • Making sure the child doesn’t dislodge the tube
  • Suctioning the trach tube as needed
  • Being prepared for an emergency if the trach comes out or malfunctions

You’ll also need to learn how to change your child’s trach at home, in accordance with the pediatrician’s instructions and learn basic emergency procedures.

What Are Some of the Most Common Complications?

Blockage with mucus and other secretions: This can be resolved by monitoring the patient and by suctioning the trach as needed.

Tracheostomy tube dislodgement: This could happen due to a reduction in neck circumference if a patient is losing weight. It could also happen during routine activities, such as dressing or bathing. This is why it’s so essential to have adequate care after a tracheostomy. Depending on the patient’s circumstances, tube dislodgement could be fatal.

Infections: The stoma could cause skin irritation or infection if not cleaned properly.

How Will a Tracheostomy Impact a Person’s Life?

Can You Talk After a Tracheostomy?

The biggest impact of undergoing this procedure is that it will be more difficult to speak afterward. This will result in frustration (and sometimes even anxiety or depression) for the patient. It will also emotionally affect the loved ones who are caring for the person.

Let your loved one know you’re paying attention to them. Ask if they’d like to communicate anything. Provide them with pictures, pen, and paper. If they’re too weak to communicate that way, ask simple “yes” or “no” questions, such as “Are you comfortable?” “Would you like me to rearrange your pillows?” “Are you thirsty?” “Would you like me to read to you?”

Some patients may regain their ability to talk through a talking tracheostomy tube or by undergoing speech therapy.

Can You Eat With a Tracheostomy?

Most people are able to eat normally after a tracheostomy. However, depending on the medical circumstances, the patient may need a feeding tube following surgery.

Contact Sonas for Tracheostomy Home Care

While a tracheostomy is a relatively simple procedure, it can have an extensive impact on your life and your loved ones’ lives. Let us help you.

Our caregivers are experienced in assisting trach patients and can help you either undergo this transition or in taking care full-time of your family member.

If you are considering pediatric care services in Florida, contact the caring staff at Sonas Home Health Care. Call today (888) 592-5855.