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Speaking Valves For Tracheostomy Tubes

Speaking Valves For Tracheostomy Tubes
Laura Castricone

Beside the “cosmetics” of a tracheostomy, the other major difficulty that patients encounter when trached, is the inability to speak or speak properly. Many people do not realize that a tracheostomy tube is placed below the level of the vocal cords and when the trach is “open”, air does not get up to the vocal cords to make vocalizations. You may notice most patients place a finger or thumb over the opening to the trach to speak. Phonation done this way is very harsh.

For some, a speaking valve cannot be used. It covers the opening to the trach tube and may impede breathing, or the patient may have too many secretions to use this device. It works by allowing the patient to breathe in via the valve, but on exhalation, the valve closes and air is forced up through the vocal cords so that the patient can speak. The most commonly ordered speaking valve is the Passy-Muir valve. This item is by order from a physician and is not indicated for everyone who may be trached. A doctor or facility will test the patient on the speaking valve to make sure they are able to tolerate having the trach opening covered.

Benefits of the Speaking Valves

  • The patient is able to speak
  • Valves are cleanable and reusable for up to 30 days
  • Convenient and easy to use
  • Improves patients' quality of life because they can talk more easily

Disadvantages of Speaking Valves

  • Can cause an “obstruction” to the airway making it difficult to breathe
  • Cannot use if you have copious secretions (will get clogged and will not perform properly)
  • Can make noise if not cleaned or cared for properly
  • Need a prescription to dispense


All You Need To Know About Tracheostomy




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HPFY Laura Castricone

Laura Castricone

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My name is Laura Castricone and I am a Certified Respiratory Therapist. I have been practicing in the state of Connecticut since 1992. I have worked in several aspects of respiratory care ...

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