A tracheostomy is a surgery to make a small opening through the front of your child’s neck and into the windpipe (trachea). A tube is then placed through the opening and into the windpipe. The tube keeps your child’s airway open and helps your child breathe by allowing air to flow into and out of the lungs.
The terms tracheostomy, tracheotomy, and trach may be used to refer to both the surgical procedure and to the opening created by the procedure.
A tracheostomy may be done when your child has a problem with the airway. For example, it may be done if:
A tracheostomy may be done as an emergency or as a planned procedure. It may be temporary or your child may have it for life.
This procedure is usually done in a hospital. In rare cases, it may be done at the scene of an accident.
Your child will be given medicine called anesthesia so your child doesn’t feel pain during the surgery. Depending on the medicine, your child may be awake or asleep during the procedure.
Your child’s healthcare provider will make a cut in the front of your child’s neck and into the windpipe. Your provider will then put a tube through the cut and into the windpipe. The tube will be held in place with stitches and cloth ties or Velcro straps that go around your child’s neck. The stitches will be removed later.
Your provider may connect a breathing machine to the tracheostomy tube.
Depending on your child’s condition, your child may stay in the hospital for a few days or weeks. If your child will still have the trach after going home from the hospital, your healthcare provider will teach you how to care for it.
If your child no longer needs it after a time, your provider will remove the tube and allow the opening to close on its own. If the opening hasn’t closed by itself in 4 to 6 months, your provider may close it with minor surgery.
Follow your child’s healthcare provider's instructions. Ask your provider:
Make sure you know when your child should come back for a checkup. Keep all appointments for provider visits or tests.
Every procedure or treatment has risks. Some possible risks of this procedure include:
Ask your child’s healthcare provider how the risks apply to your child. Be sure to discuss any other questions or concerns that you may have.