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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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.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 ?
Two different publications reported early complication of 19% and 22% and late complication of 51% and 77%.9,11 In our study, 273 tracheotomies were performed over the past decade and 152 (55.68%) complications were observed.
The major dangers associated with tracheotomies are plugs of mucus, which must be suctioned by a trained individual, or decannulation by "'an inquisitive toddler."
Within one week, nine of the eleven children who were operated on had their tracheotomies removed and were allowed to go home.
However, according to the majority of parents of children with tracheotomies, the most significant drawback remains the child's inability to vocalize.
Although, the term "tracheotomy" was first used in 1739 by Lorenz Heister, it dates back to 2000 BC.1 Currently, two main indications for tracheotomy are Upper Airway Compromise (UAC) and Prolonged Intubation (PI).2 In the first half of the 20th century, tracheotomies performed due to UAC were far more frequent with indications of infections such as diphtheria, acute supraglottitis and deep neck abscesses.