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What To Expect During a Tracheostomy

To create a tracheostomy, your surgeon will make a cut through the lower front part of your neck. He or she will then make a cut in your trachea, or windpipe.

The surgeon will place a tube (called a trach tube) through the hole and into the windpipe. The tube will help keep the hole open. Some trach tubes are “cuffed.” Doctors can widen or narrow cuffed tubes by inflating or deflating them with air.

You may have a chest x ray to ensure the trach tube is placed correctly. The tube will then be held in place with stitches, surgical tape, or a Velcro band.

The procedure to make a tracheostomy usually takes between 20 and 45 minutes.

Tracheostomy

Figure A shows a side view of the neck and the correct placement of a trach tube in the trachea, or windpipe. Figure B shows an external view of a patient who has a tracheostomy.

Figure A shows a side view of the neck and the correct placement of a trach tube in the trachea, or windpipe. Figure B shows an external view of a patient who has a tracheostomy.

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March 19, 2012 Last Updated Icon

The NHLBI updates Health Topics articles on a biennial cycle based on a thorough review of research findings and new literature. The articles also are updated as needed if important new research is published. The date on each Health Topics article reflects when the content was originally posted or last revised.