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Tracheostomy Basics

What is a Tracheotomy?

A tracheotomy is a surgical procedure that opens up the windpipe (trachea).  tracheotomy.jpg

For a tracheotomy, an incision is made in the skin just above the sternal notch (A). Just below the thyroid, the membrane covering the trachea is divided (B), and the trachea itself is cut (C). A cross incision is made to enlarge the opening (D), and a tracheostomy tube may be put in place (E). 

What is a Tracheostomy?

The term tracheostomy is sometimes used interchangeably with tracheotomy. Strictly speaking, however, tracheostomy usually refers to the opening itself while a tracheotomy is the actual operation.

What is a Laryngectomy?

Laryngectomy is the term for the total removal of the larynx, e.g. in order to treat malignant diseases. Laryngectomized patients breathe through their tracheal stomas only.

Anatomical changes

Besides their effects on the patient's ability to speak, tracheostomies and laryngectomies are associated with other functional changes. In both tracheostomized and laryngectomized patients, the inspiration (breathing in) no longer takes place through the nose. As a result, it is necessary to replace the protective and filtering functions of the nose. Various assistive devices are used to reinstate a near-physiological environment and the required respiratory resistance in the respiratory tract.