Tracheostomy, tracheotomy procedure explained & 3D animation

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Tracheotomy and tracheostomy

Tracheotomy and tracheostomy are surgical procedures that create an opening in the trachea (windpipe) to help patients breathe when they have difficulty doing so through the nose or mouth. Though they are similar in purpose, there are some key differences between them.


is a temporary procedure that involves creating a small incision in the trachea to insert a breathing tube. The tube is typically removed once the patient no longer requires it, and the incision heals on its own.


on the other hand, is a more permanent solution that involves creating a hole in the trachea and inserting a tracheostomy tube, which remains in place for an extended period.

Indications for these procedures



  • Airway obstruction: due to trauma, tumors, or infection
  • Severe respiratory distress or failure
  • Prolonged mechanical ventilation
  • Inability to protect the airway: due to neurological disorders or impaired consciousness

Steps for performing a tracheotomy and tracheostomy

Preparation: The patient is positioned, and the neck area is cleaned and draped. Local anesthesia is often administered, although general anesthesia may be used in some cases.

Incision: A small incision is made in the neck, and the muscles and tissues are carefully separated to expose the trachea.

Tracheal opening: A small opening is made in the trachea, typically between the second and third tracheal rings.

Tube insertion: A tracheotomy tube is inserted through the incision and into the trachea for a tracheotomy, while a tracheostomy tube is inserted for a tracheostomy. Both tubes are secured in place.

Confirmation: Proper placement of the tube is confirmed by listening for breath sounds and checking for adequate ventilation.

Pre-operative care

typically involves a thorough assessment of the patient's medical history, as well as any necessary imaging studies or lab tests to ensure the procedure is appropriate and safe. Informed consent should be obtained from the patient or their legal representative.

Post-operative care

includes monitoring the patient's vital signs, ensuring the tube remains secure and patent, and managing any pain or discomfort. For tracheostomy patients, regular cleaning and maintenance of the stoma (the opening in the trachea) and the tracheostomy tube are essential to prevent infection and other complications.

Long-term care may involve speech therapy, respiratory therapy, and support from a multidisciplinary team to address any ongoing needs.

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