What Is a Tracheostomy?

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By james
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Reviewed: Dr. Gromatzky
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A tracheostomy is a relatively common surgical procedure that is often used to save somebodys life in the short term, and/or to maintain their life in the longer term. It looks quite dramatic but it is actually quite straightforward, and often not nearly as bad as it may look, even though it can be uncomfortable for the patient.

While the procedure is quite straightforward, it is still only used as a last resort. It is usually only temporary and the hole created will be repaired once it is no longer needed. In some cases, however, there may be a need to have a tracheostomy permanently.

1. Trachea

The trachea, which is more commonly known as the windpipe, is a tube that travels from our mouths down to our lungs and it allows for air to pass freely between the two. It is made mostly from cartilage, and it is found in the vast majority of animals that use lungs to take oxygen from the air. It begins just below the voice box, and forks at the bottom into two separate branches that feed air to and from the lungs. It is essential that this airway is kept clear at all times so that the body is continuously fed with oxygen, while the passages to and from the trachea must also remain open.

Tracheostomy

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