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(trākēŏt`əmē), surgical incision into the trachea, or windpipe. The operation is performed when the windpipe has become blocked, e.g., by the presence of some foreign object or by swelling of the larynx. A curved or flexible tube is inserted into the trachea to facilitate breathing. In diseases such as pneumonia that cause the lungs to fill with fluids, this same incision may be used to drain the lungs. A tracheostomy is the surgical formation of a rounded opening into the trachea and differs from a tracheotomy in that the former procedure establishes a permanent opening.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



an emergency operation performed in cases of arrested breathing; a resuscitation technique. The operation was known to the ancient Greek physicians Asclepiades and Galen and has been performed regularly since the 16th century.

Tracheotomy permits the free passage of air into the respiratory tract when the trachea is obstructed as a result of an inflammatory swelling, tumor, spasm of the vocal cords, injury, or foreign body. The incision is made below the obstruction. Modern indications for tracheotomy have been broadened to include cases of respiratory disturbances when the respiratory tract is unobstructed. Such cases include unconsciousness accompanied by the loss of the coughing and breathing reflexes, impairment of the respiratory mechanism after a chest injury, and pulmonary edema.

In tracheotomy, the trachea is generally incised longitudinally or transversely above (superior tracheotomy) or below (inferior tracheotomy) the isthmus of the thyroid. When an emergency tracheotomy is performed at the site of an accident, any available instrument, such as a penknife, may be used. A double tube made of high-grade metal or plastic is inserted into the incision. The inside tube is periodically removed and replaced, or cleansed and sterilized. The upper respiratory tract is cleansed through a tracheostoma, or opening in the trachea. Through this opening, mucus is removed by suction, the trachea is irrigated, and medicine is administered. Artificial respiration is carried out through the tracheostoma as well. After breathing is restored, the tube inserted in the tracheostoma is removed. The opening in the trachea usually heals without complications.


Arapov, D. A., and Iu. V. Isakov. Trakheostomiia v sovremennoi klinike, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1974.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


surgical incision into the trachea, usually performed when the upper air passage has been blocked
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
Goldenberg in his large series of 100 tracheostomies had mentioned 2 deaths due to pneumothorax.
Thirty-three (52.4%) patients underwent tracheostomies within the first year of life.
Early tracheostomies were performed in our study especially for patients like tetanus, GBS and with low GCS state.
Maximum number of tracheostomies was performed owing to upper respiratory infections such as tetanus and diphtheria.
Four patients had tracheostomies before their anterior cervical surgery, hence the negative 30 days as the minimum value in the range.
Evidence from previous studies indicates that the reductions in ventilator usage and hospitalization days are most significant for the tracheostomies conducted within 2–28 days after ventilator use.[sup][11],[18] Therefore, we included patients who were potentially required for tracheostomies (those using ventilators for more than 14 days during the hospitalization) and divided them into two groups: patients who received tracheostomies within 30 days after ventilator use and patients who did not received tracheostomies [Figure 1].
The nurse must be knowledgeable and skilled in caring for patients with tracheostomies. Medical-surgical nursing requires readiness for crises.
Mr Tomkinson said the missing equipment could have enabled him to diagnose the problem, a known complication with tracheostomies.
Our home care staff have participated in vent unit care-planning meetings and have acquired additional knowledge and experience in caring for patients who have required ventilators, as well as tracheostomies. The overwhelming number of physiologically nonweanable residents suffering from progressive neuromuscular diseases, including ALS, MS, and Guillain-Barre, has been a disappointment to our professional staff.
Mucous occlusions in children with tracheostomies occur for the following reasons: (a) lack of humidity (Dajiby & Hogg, 1980); or (b) inadequate suctioning technique.
The family discovered help through the charity Aid for Children with Tracheostomies which set up in 1983 and has contact with around 500 families in the UK.
Paediatric tracheostomies in Johannesburg: A ten year review (Doctoral dissertation).