Tracheotomy Care

Learn what care is required for the Tracheotomy procedure. Find out what you need to do prior to the procedure, how long it will take, if you will be required to stay in the hospital and what the postoperative care is.

Tracheotomy Details

What to Expect Prior to Procedure

Your doctor will likely do the following:

  • Chest x-ray -a test that uses radiation to take a picture of structures inside the body
  • Blood and urine tests
  • Review of medicines

Talk to your doctor about your medicines. You may be asked to stop taking some medicines up to one week before the procedure, like:

  • Aspirin or other anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Blood thinners, such as clopidogrel (Plavix) or warfarin (Coumadin)


General anesthesia will be used. You will be asleep. In emergency situations, local anesthesia may be used. It will numb the area.

Description of Procedure

A cut will be made in the skin of the neck. A section at the front of the windpipe will be removed. A tracheostomy tube, which will act as the airway, will then be fitted into this opening in the windpipe. The skin will be closed around the tube with stitches or clips.

You will breathe through this tube as long as it is in place. Oxygen and machines to assist breathing will be provided, if needed.

You will not be able to speak when the tube is in place unless you put a finger or other covering over the tube. This is because all the air going in and out of the tube bypasses the vocal cords.

Immediately After Procedure

A chest x-ray may be needed.

How Long Will It Take?

About 15-30 minutes

How Much Will It Hurt?

Anesthesia prevents pain during the procedure. You may have some pain and soreness during recovery. Your doctor can prescribe pain medicine to help relieve this discomfort.

Average Hospital Stay

The length of stay will depend on the reason for the procedure. Most stays are 1-5 days.

Post-procedure Care

  • Keep the stoma area clean. Clean it daily with mild soap and water or with hydrogen peroxide. Replace the dressing with a clean dry one.
  • Learn the proper daily care of your tracheostomy tube . This will help maintain its function. Care includes the following, which you will be taught shortly after the surgery:
    • Cleaning the tube
    • Suctioning the tube regularly to keep it from becoming blocked with secretions
    • Humidifying the air you breathe
    • Covering the tracheostomy hole with a scarf or other cloth when going outside, so that dust, dirt, and other foreign particles cannot get in
    • Being very cautious about breathing in water or small particles through the tracheostomy (such as food bits, powders, aerosol sprays, dust)
    • Covering the tracheostomy hole with your fingers in order to speak
  • Consult a speech therapist if recommended by your doctor.
  • Take antibiotics, if prescribed by your doctor.
  • Return to daily activities and work as soon as possible to promote healing.
  • Avoid vigorous exercise for six weeks after surgery.
  • Be sure to follow your doctor's instructions .

Once a tracheostomy tube is in place, you will experience breathing and vocal changes. It usually takes three days to adjust to breathing through the tube. Speaking is often a larger adjustment. Initially, you may not be able to speak.


Learn what Tracheotomy is
What Is
Learn what the procedure is. Find out how it is performed.
Reasons For Tracheotomy
Reasons For
Find out why and when this procedure should be done.
Tracheotomy Complications
Learn about possible complications and what might increase the risk of them.
Tracheotomy Details
What to Expect
Find out how long it will take, what they will be doing and what to expect afterwards.
Tracheotomy Results
What are the next steps and other possible tests needed after you have received the results.
When to Contact Doctor about Tracheotomy
Call Your Doctor
What to look out for and when to call your doctor after a procedure has been done.

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Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Copyright ©2014 EBSCO Publishing All rights reserved. Source: EBSCO