What is a tracheostomy?

The term tracheostomy is used to describe a surgically created hole in the neck that extends to the windpipe, or trachea, to allow for safe breathing. A tracheostomy tube is the curved breathing tube that is placed through the hole in the neck, and into the windpipe.

Who needs a tracheostomy?

The two most common reasons a child might need a tracheostomy are a blockage in the upper airway or the need to support breathing with a machine.

What goes into the care and management of a tracheostomy?

Though it is often the safest option available, a tracheostomy often requires significant care to ensure a child’s safety. In the hospital, this may require consistent monitoring, especially during bathing. Sometimes it also needs to be humidified and a clear airway needs to be maintained through suctioning.

Stanford Medicine Children’s Health provides personalized tracheostomy management and care in the hospital, and we work closely with caretakers to help them manage care once the child is no longer in the hospital. Should your child need to transition to a care center or rehabilitation facility, our airway surgeons and pulmonologists make visits to several facilities in the area to provide continuity of care. If your child has been referred to our Aerodigestive and Airway Reconstruction Center from out of the state or country, we partner with your child’s home hospital and physicians to ensure a smooth transition of care.

When it is time for your child to work toward permanently removing the tracheostomy, our team will discuss and perform next steps for your child, including airway examinations, possible reconstructive surgery, and decannulation (removal of the tracheostomy tube) in a monitored, safe way.