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 about 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 tracheotomy is a surgery on a person’s neck to provide air passage to the trachea (also known as the windpipe).

What Is the Purpose of a Tracheostomy?

A tracheostomy is performed on patients due to lack of air getting to the lungs.

Depending on the patient’s health, he or she may need the artificial air passage temporarily or permanently, which allows a person to breathe without the use of the nose or mouth. 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 many 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, they will need 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, epiglottitis, vocal 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 anterior 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.

How Long Does a Tracheostomy Procedure Take?

The entire procedure should take between 20 and 45 minutes to complete.

Can You Talk With a Tracheostomy?

Most people aren’t able to speak with a tracheostomy. This lends itself to frustrations and often depression, especially among people who were relatively independent before undergoing surgery.

However, some patients do regain their ability to talk Special tracheostomy tube valves (such as a Passy-Muir Valve) have been created to assist people with speech. Others may undergo speech therapy. However, the tube won’t allow patients to regain the same ability to speak, that they had prior to the procedure.

Tracheostomy in Children

Children with tracheostomies need constant, around the clock supervision. This is because you’ll need to do complete regular checks, including:

  • 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 in the hole: This can be resolved by monitoring the patient and by suctioning the tracheostomy as needed.

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 a spare tracheostomy nearby and proper training for re-insertion. 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 Is Removed?

Speaking After Tracheostomy Removal: 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 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 After a Tracheostomy Is Removed?

Eating After Tracheostomy Removal: 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 that of your loved ones. Let us help you.

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

If you or an aging loved one are considering home care services in Florida, contact the caring staff at Sonas Home Health Care. Call today (888) 592-5855.