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Complications of a Tracheostomy

The following is a list of problems that could potentially occur with tracheostomies:

Early complications:

  •  Bleeding
  •  Tube is not positioned correctly
  •  Tube obstruction caused by a hole in the cuff
  •  The tube tip presses on the tracheal wall resulting in tube obstruction
  •  Pneumothorax (collapsed lung)

 Delayed complications:

  •  Blockage by secretions, either suddenly or gradually; rare when humidification and secretion suctioning are sufficient
  •  Infection of the stoma
  •  An overstretched trachea caused by an overly inflated cuff
  •  Development of sore on the trachea from asymmetrical cuff inflation, too strong cuff pressure or tube displacement
  •  In obese or fatigued patients who have difficulty stretching their neck, the danger of tracheostomy tube blockage is elevated

Late complications

  •  Granuloma formation in the trachea can lead to respiratory difficulties after tracheostomy tube is removed
  •  Persistent fistula (opening) in the region of the tracheostomy
  •  Dilation of the trachea
  •  Tracheal stenosis at the site of the tube cuff
  •  Scar formation requiring surgical revision


Call you doctor right away if you have any of these problems:

  • Red, painful, or bleeding stoma
  • Fever over 101 degrees F and Tylenol does not bring it down
  • Swelling or shrinkage around the trach tube
  • Difficulty inserting the inner cannula
  • Pain while suctioning
  • Yellow, smelly, bloody or thick mucous
  • You are short of breath and do not know why