Tracheostomy 101

Tracheotomy is a surgical procedure that is usually done in the operating room under general anesthesia. A tracheotomy is an incision into the trachea (windpipe) that forms a temporary or permanent opening which is called a tracheostomy. Sometimes the terms "tracheotomy" and "tracheostomy" are used interchangeably. The opening, or hole, is called a stoma. The incision is usually vertical in children and runs from the second to the fourth tracheal ring. 

incision site

A tube is inserted through the opening to allow passage of air and removal of secretions. Instead of breathing through the nose and mouth, the child will now breath through the tracheostomy tube.

lateral view

After a tracheotomy procedure, the child usually stays in the hospital for about five days, unless there is a complicating condition. It takes about two weeks to recover fully from the surgery.

Management of children with tracheostomies is a complex process that required careful coordination and consistent follow-up. Parents need to be comfortable with all aspects of tracheostomy care before taking the child home. Nursing services should also be arranged before discharge from the hospital.

This page updated 09/10/02