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A tracheostomy is a surgical opening through the neck into the windpipe (trachea). The opening is also called a stoma. A tracheostomy helps you breathe if you have a lung or nerve problem, an infection, or trouble handling secretions.
Taking good care of a tracheostomy is very important. It can prevent infections and help keep you breathing easily.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Your doctor or nurse will give you instructions about how to take care of your tracheostomy, or trach (say "trayk"). This will include how to suction your trach, how to clean the opening in your neck (stoma), and how to clean and replace the trach's inner tube (inner cannula). Be sure to follow all of these instructions closely.
Suctioning is needed if you can't clear mucus and secretions from your trach tube by coughing. Always have suction supplies ready, including a fully charged suction machine. Suction the trach as often as your doctor recommends or as needed. You will need suction catheters, a suction machine, and a mirror. Here are the steps to take:
The opening in your neck is called a stoma. To care for your stoma, clean and dry it 2 times a day, and as needed. Do not let crust form on the skin at the stoma. You will need saline fluid or sterile water, 8 or 10 cotton-tipped swabs, gauze pads, a small cup, a mirror, presplit gauze, and ointment for the skin. Follow these steps:
A cannula is the tube that fits into the stoma. Clean and replace the inner cannula 2 times each day, and as needed. For a reusable inner cannula, you will need 2 small bowls, a small cannula pipe brush, sterile water or saline fluid, and a mirror. To clean the inner cannula:
Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:
Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if you have any problems. Make sure you have your emergency supplies, including the obturator, available when help arrives or when you arrive at the doctor's office.
Current as of: March 1, 2023
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Elizabeth T. Russo MD - Internal Medicine
Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.
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