When someone can’t breathe on their own, due to illness or injury, many times doctors will perform a tracheotomy. This is a medical procedure that temporarily or permanently opens a hole in the neck for a tube to pass through to the patient’s trachea, or windpipe.
The hole, called a tracheostomy or stoma, is located below the vocal cords. When the tube is inserted, air can enter the lungs and bypass the mouth, nose and throat.
Here’s what you need to know about the procedure:
When does a patient require a tracheostomy?
Doctors will create a stoma in any situation where breathing is impossible. This can be for patients after surgery or in intensive care, patients with chronic lung diseases or cancers, patients in a coma, or in other situations. People who need long-term respirator or ventilator support will also require a stoma.
Many times, the tracheostomy is temporary, and it will be repaired after you recover. Normally, all that’s left after recovery is a small scar where the stoma once was.
For long-term or permanent stomas, your loved one may need to learn how to speak around the tubing, and will need ongoing care. At Regency Nursing, we provide outstanding tracheostomy care to keep the incidence of complication low.
What are the risks of a tracheotomy?
Every medical procedure carries some risk. When the procedure involves breaking the skin, we have the twin risks of infection and hemorrhaging.
Tracheotomies also carry specific risks, including:
- damage to the glands in the neck, particularly the thyroid.
- lung puncture or collapse.
- scar tissue in the windpipe.
- erosion of the trachea is also a serious risk, but it’s extremely rare.
What does tracheostomy care entail?
The procedure to create the stoma shouldn’t take longer than 45 minutes. Your loved one may then stay in the hospital until they recover from the surgery. During this time, they won’t be able to eat normally, and may require a feeding tube. They may also need speech therapy to help learn how to talk around the tube.
If your loved one is going home after a tracheotomy, you will receive clear instructions on how to care for the stoma and tubing. You will need to suction the tube every day, clean the inner cannula if there is one, and change the dressing at the opening.
You will also need to check the surgical site daily for signs of infection or other complications.
If your loved one is at a skilled nursing facility, the nursing staff will take care of the stoma. At Regency Nursing in particular, your loved one will be in good hands. Our nurses are specially trained in tracheostomy care, and we go above and beyond in keeping your loved one’s stoma squeaky clean and clear.
To learn more, contact us at Regency Nursing and Rehabilitation.