What are the other Names for the Procedure?
- Translaryngeal Tracheostomy
What is the Tracheostomy surgical procedure?
A Tracheostomy is a surgical procedure that involves creating an opening through the neck within the windpipe (trachea) that will either temporarily or permanently avoid the airway from being obstructed.
What part of the Body does the Procedure involve?
A Tracheostomy procedure involves the windpipe and blood vessels and nerves within the neck.
Why is the Tracheostomy surgical procedure Performed?
The Tracheostomy surgical procedure is performed for the following reasons:
- Restore breathing to normal
- Manage secretions from within the nose and throat
- To construct an airway in individuals who require long-term breathing assistance
- To construct an airway in individuals who have had their larynx removed
What are some Alternative Choices for the Procedure?
When indicated, there are no alternatives to a Tracheostomy procedure.
What are the Recent Advances in the Procedure?
There are no recent advances to the Tracheostomy procedure.
What is the Cost of performing the Tracheostomy surgical procedure?
The cost of Tracheostomy procedure depends on a variety of factors, such as the type of your health insurance, annual deductibles, co-pay requirements, out-of-network and in-network of your healthcare providers and healthcare facilities.
In many cases, an estimate may be provided before the procedure. The final amount depends upon the findings during the surgery/procedure and post-operative care that is necessary.
When do you need a Second Opinion, prior to the Procedure?
- It is normal for a patient to feel uncomfortable and confused by the information regarding Tracheostomy procedure and on what needs to be done
- If the patient needs further reassurance or a second opinion, a physician will almost always assist and also recommend another physician, if required
- Also, if the procedure involves multiple surgeries or has many alternatives, the patient may take a second opinion to understand and choose the best one. They can also choose to approach another physician independently
What are some Helpful Resources?
Complete Guide to Symptoms, Illness & Surgery; Written by H Winter Griffith, M.D.; Revised and updated by Stephen Moore, M.D. and Kenneth Yoder, M.D.; The Berkley Publishing Group, 5th Edition, New York, 2006
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002955.htm (accessed on 05/16/2015)
Prior to Tracheostomy surgical procedure:
How is the Tracheostomy surgical procedure Performed?
The Tracheostomy procedure may be performed under general or local anesthesia.
- The surgeon makes an incision on the neck to expose the cartilaginous rings of the trachea (windpipe)
- An opening is made on the wall of the trachea and a tube is inserted for entry of air into the trachea
Where is the Procedure Performed?
A Tracheostomy procedure is usually performed in an out-patient surgery center facility, an emergency room, or a hospital.
Who Performs the Procedure?
An otolaryngologist or a general surgeon performs the Tracheostomy surgical procedure.
How long will the Procedure take?
An emergency Tracheostomy procedure is usually performed in a few minutes while a planned surgery may be completed in about 20-30 minutes.
What do you need to tell your Physician before the Procedure?
It is very important to provide the following information to your healthcare provider. This enables your healthcare provider in assessing the risks for the Tracheostomy procedure and helps avoid unnecessary complications.
- Provide a complete list of medications you are currently taking to your physician. This information is useful for a variety of reasons. For example, it can help your healthcare provider prevent complications due to a drug interaction
- If you are allergic to any specific medication or food items
- If you are taking blood thinners such as aspirin, warfarin, herbal supplements, or any other such medications
- If you or your family members have a history of bleeding disorders, or if there is a tendency to bleed more than normal
- If you have diabetes, high blood pressure, chest pains, or have previously suffered from a heart attack
- If you have ever been diagnosed with blood clots in your leg (deep vein thrombosis) or lung (embolism of lung)
- If you have a history of frequent bone fractures (this may affect bone-healing if bones are involved as part of your procedure)
- A list of all previous surgical procedures you have undergone, for example: Removal of appendix, gallbladder, or any other part, of your body; surgical repair of any body part, such as hernia repair, perforation of bowel wall, etc.
What Preparations are needed, prior to the Procedure?
- The physician may evaluate the individual’s medical history to gain a comprehensive knowledge of the overall health status of the patient including information related to the medications that are currently being taken
- Some medications increase a person’s chances of bleeding and it may be recommended to discontinue them for a period of time before the procedure is performed
- Blood tests may be performed to determine if there is a bleeding tendency or any other medical conditions that prevents the person from undergoing the procedure
- Inform the physician if you are allergic to any local anesthetics, lidocaine, etc.
- Avoid application of any cosmetics, deodorant, or topical medicines on the area prior to the procedure
- It is advisable to quit smoking and the use of any nicotine based products for a while before the surgery
- Consumption of alcoholic drinks must also be avoided for a period of time, as instructed
- The patient must avoid eating or drinking at least 8 hours prior to the surgical procedure, depending on when the procedure is arranged
- For individuals suffering from diabetes, it is important that the blood sugar stays within the normal range; if not, their diabetologist may have to control blood sugar by recommending insulin and/or a combination of oral medicines
What is the Consent Process before the Procedure?
A physician will request your consent for Tracheostomy procedure using an Informed Consent Form.
Consent for the Procedure: A “consent” is your approval to undergo a procedure. A consent form is signed after the risks and benefits of the procedure, and alternative treatment options, are discussed. This process is called informed consent.
You must sign the forms only after you are totally satisfied by the answers to your questions. In case of minors and individuals unable to personally give their consent, the individual’s legal guardian or next of kin, shall give their consent for the procedure.
What Tests are needed, before the Tracheostomy surgical procedure?
Before a Tracheostomy procedure, the patient has to undergo certain tests such as:
- Routine blood and urine analysis
- Chest X-ray
What are some Questions for your Physician?
Some of the basic questions that you might ask your physician are as follows:
- What is a Tracheostomy procedure?
- Why is this procedure necessary? How will it help?
- How soon should I get it done? Is it an emergency?
- Who are the medical personnel involved in this procedure?
- Where is the procedure performed?
- What are the risks while performing the procedure?
- What are the complications that might take place during recovery?
- How long will it take to recover? When can I resume normal work?
- How many such procedures have you (the physician) performed?
- Are there any follow-up tests, periodic visits to the healthcare facility required after the procedure?
- What are the costs involved?
During the Tracheostomy surgical procedure:
What kind of Anesthesia is given, during the Procedure?
Local anesthesia by injection or general anesthesia by injection and inhalation is administered prior to the procedure.
How much Blood will you lose, during the Procedure?
There is not much blood loss during an uncomplicated Tracheostomy procedure.
What are the possible Risks and Complications during the Tracheostomy surgical procedure?
There are general factors that increase the risk of getting complications during surgery and they include:
- Obesity: Generally, the greater the degree of obesity, the greater the surgical risk
- Smoking: The longer the smoking history (in pack years smoked), the greater the surgical risk
- Advancing age
- Poorly controlled diabetes, as evidenced by a high hemoglobin A1c and a high fasting glucose
- Poorly functioning kidney, as evidenced by increased BUN (blood urea nitrogen) and blood creatinine
- Poorly functioning liver, as evidenced by increased blood liver function tests
- Hypertension (increased blood pressure), especially if it is poorly controlled
- Poor nutritional status (malnutrition with mineral and vitamin deficiencies)
- Poor lung function, as evidenced by abnormal lung function tests
- History of bleeding disorders
- Longstanding illness, such as autoimmune disorders and chronic infections
- Poor immune system due to a variety of causes
The possible risks or complications that may arise during the Tracheostomy surgery are:
- Excessive bleeding
- Infection within the surgical wound
- Anesthetic complications
What Post-Operative Care is needed at the Healthcare Facility after the Tracheostomy surgical procedure?
- After the Tracheostomy procedure, the patients are sent to an area of the hospital called the postoperative recovery area (or PACU)
- The patient’s blood pressure, heart rate, and respiration cycle shall be closely monitored. Any additional pain associated with the procedure will be treated
- Individuals are usually discharged from the hospital about 1-3 days after the surgery is performed
After the Tracheostomy surgical procedure:
What are the possible Risks and Complications after the Tracheostomy surgical procedure?
The possible risks and complications that may arise after a Tracheostomy procedure are:
- Excessive bleeding
- Infection within surgical wound
- Accidental injury to the vocal cords, surrounding vocal-core nerves, or esophagus
- Abnormal scarring of the trachea resulting in stricture
What is the Prognosis after the Surgery?
A complete recovery from a Tracheostomy procedure is usually achieved. The prognosis is generally excellent without any serious complications being noted.
When do you need to call your Physician?
Do contact your physician if you notice any of the following symptoms:
- Pain that worsens and swelling around the surgical wound
- Excessive bleeding or fluid drainage from the surgical wound
- The occurrence of any symptom that causes uneasiness such as nausea or vomiting
- Difficulty speaking after the removal of the temporary tracheostomy tube
- Signs of an infection
- Headache, muscle aches
- Fever, feeling sick
- Complications associated with prescription medications used in treatment
What Post-Operative Care is needed at Home after Tracheostomy surgical procedure?
At home, the following post-operative care is recommended after a Tracheostomy procedure:
- Slowly resume regular/daily activities as early as possible, which aids in a faster recovery
- Resume showering, and keep the surgical wound clean and dry. Replace the dressings after showering
- Proper care of the tracheostomy opening is a must
- Consult a speech therapist if advised by your physician
- Complete the course of prescribed medication, as advised by your physician
- Take antibiotic medication to help combat or prevent infection, per your physician’s advice
- Avoid taking nonprescription medications such as aspirin. However, individuals may take acetaminophen to relieve pain (per the physician’s advice)
- Avoid all activities that are physically strenuous for about 6 weeks after the procedure
How long does it normally take to fully recover, from the Procedure?
Recovery from the Tracheostomy procedure may take about a week or so.
What happens to tissue (if any), taken out during the Procedure?
The Tracheostomy procedure does not involve the surgical removal of any tissue.
When should you expect results from the pathologist regarding tissue taken out, during the Procedure?
Since no tissue is removed during the procedure, a pathologist does not get involved in the care of the patient.
Who will you receive a Bill from, after the Tracheostomy surgical procedure?
It is important to note that the number of bills that the patient may receive depends on the arrangement the healthcare facility has with the physician and other healthcare providers.
Sometimes, the patient may get a single bill that includes the healthcare facility and the consultant physician charges. Sometimes, the patient might get multiple bills depending on the healthcare provider involved. For instance, the patient may get a bill from:
- The out-patient surgery center facility, an emergency room, or hospital
- An anesthesiologist (if anesthesia was administered)
- An otolaryngologist or a general surgeon
The patient is advised to inquire and confirm the type of billing, before the Tracheostomy procedure is performed.
Thanks and Gratitude:
We sincerely acknowledge and thank Dr. Douglas J. Jones for reviewing the article. His valuable input and feedback has helped enrich the contents of this article.
Douglas J. Jones, MD FACS
Board Certified General Surgeon and Faculty Member
University of Illinois, College of Medicine at Urbana-Champaign
506 S. Mathews Ave., Urbana, IL 61801, USA