Tracheostomy - Procedure

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Describe your tracheostomy procedure, including any complications.

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What are risks and complications of tracheostomy?

It is important to understand that a tracheostomy, as with all surgeries, involves potential complications and possible injury from both known and unforeseen causes. Because individuals vary in their tissue circulation and healing processes, as well as anesthetic reactions, ultimately there can be no guarantee made as to the results or potential complications. Tracheostomies are usually performed during emergency situations or on very ill patients. This patient population is, therefore, at higher risk for a complication during and after the procedure

The following complications have been reported in the medical literature. This list is not meant to be inclusive of every possible complication. It is listed here for information only in order to provide a greater awareness and knowledge concerning the tracheostomy procedure.

  • Airway obstruction and aspiration of secretions (rare).
  • Bleeding. In very rare situations, the need for blood products or a blood transfusion.
  • Damage to the larynx (voice box) or airway with resultant permanent change in voice (rare).
  • Need for further and more aggressive surgery
  • Infection
  • Air trapping in the surrounding tissues or chest. In rare situations, a chest tube may be required
  • Scarring of the airway or erosion of the tube into the surrounding structures (rare).
  • Need for a permanent tracheostomy. This is most likely the result of the disease process which made the a tracheostomy necessary, and not from the actual procedure itself.
  • Impaired swallowing and vocal function
  • Scarring of the neck

Obviously, many of the types of patients who undergo a tracheostomy are seriously ill and have multiple organ-system problems. The doctors will decide on the ideal timing for the tracheostomy based on the patient's status and underlying medical conditions.

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See what others are saying

Comment from: dontknow, 35-44 Male (Patient) Published: December 27

February 2014 will be 1 year anniversary since my tracheostomy, I never wanted it and I tried to prolong my stay in the hospital thinking I would have an alternate option; that never happened! I have amyloidosis AL in vocal cords and if radiation is used to treat amyloid it might kill my voice for good. I don't want to be mute, I cried before the surgery because I have bad asthma with mucus constantly plus you have to be very hygienic the first month or so and have to watch what you eat because there's a tube in the throat which sometimes blocks food.

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Comment from: annietcol1958, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: January 29

I had bulbar polio in 1958 and had to have a tracheostomy. It saved my life and I have had many happy years since then. I have noticed a pattern in recent years; I seem to have upper respiratory infections with increasing frequency - 3 in the last year. I seem to have constant phlegm in my throat (just at the level with my tracheostomy scar). I wonder if there is any reason for these infections that might have anything to do with scarring in the trachea.

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