Loading... Please wait...

Suctioning Your Trach Tube

Suctioning Your Trach Tube


These instructions are for educational purposes. Always follow the advice provided by your physician or licensed respiratory therapist.


Suctioning keeps your trach tube clear of excess mucus. It is normal for the trachea and lungs to produce mucus and secretions. The mucus cleans the inhaled air by collecting and retaining tiny airborn particles. The mucus is transported up the airway until it can be coughed out. Sometimes it can collect in and around the tracheostomy tube. If you hear a 'gurgling' sound when you breathe, it's a sign that you need to suction your tube. The mucus has to be removed so your tube is clear and you can breathe easily and so it doesn't dry out and form crusts. Your help care provider will show you how to suction your tube and tell you how often to do it. The following are guidelines.

Equipment needed:how-to-suction-tracheostomy-tube.jpg

  • A clean, well-lighted space near a sink and mirror
  • Suction machine with secretion container
  • Sterile atraumatic suction catheter (the right size for the patient)
  • If needed, 02-therapy flowmeter and tracheostomy mask
  • Filled water container (labeled: for cleaning suction tubes)
  • Sterile one-way gloves
  • Eye protection


  • Wash hands
  • Using a fingertip/15 mm connector, connect the sterile ctheter on the funnel-shaped colored adapter to the suction tube of the suction machine by opening the packaging only at the end where the funnel-shaped adapter is located. This is done to ensure that the catheter remain sterile.
  • Put on sterile gloves
  • The patient should now breathe deeply several times to secure an abundant supply of oxygen.
  • Insert the suction catheter carefully without suction until it has reached the end of the tube. Some catheters have to be inserted with suction (observe the manufacturer's instructions)
  • Carefully, pull out the cather under suction while turning it back and forth between your thumb and index finger. Carry out a 'pulsating' suctioning procedure by covering and uncovering the valve on the catheter.
  • The catheter should be out of your trach tube within 5 - 10 seconds. If you need to suction more, relax and breathe for a few minutes then proceed again.
  • When you have finished, turn off the suction machine and discard the used catheter and gloves.


  • While you suction, you may have a gagging feeling. Know that this is normal and try to relax.
  • Use sterile, distilled water for suctioning if your health care provider tells you to.
  • Do not suction for more than 5-10 seconds at a time. Suctioning longer pulls too much oxygen out of your lungs.
  • If you use supplemental oxygen, use it before and after you suction
  • Warm, moist air helps loosen your mucus. Use a vaporizer or humidifier if you health care provider suggests it and clean it daily.


  • Red, painful, or bleeding stoma
  • Swelling around the trach tube
  • Fever over 101 degrees F
  • Pain while suctioning
  • Yellow, smelly, bloody, or thick mucus
  • Shortness of breath
  • Vomiting that doesn't go away
  • CALL 911 (Emergency) immediately if you ever have trouble breathing