A decannulation is when the tracheostomy tube is removed from the neck and the stoma (opening in the neck) is allowed to heal. This is a procedure planned by a physician when the patient is fully ready to breathe without needing a bypass.

An emergency decannulation, however, is when the tracheostomy tube is removed from the stoma by accident.

Things keep in Mind During Tracheostomy Decannulation

This is truly a medical emergency since most tracheostomies are done to keep a “patent” airway.

Should an emergency decannulation occur, you must prepare to call 911 or go to the nearest emergency department.

If you have a smaller tracheostomy tube to insert into the stoma in the meantime, and you can insert it easily without force or resistance, it will keep the stoma from closing and keep a route for breathing.

Unfortunately, not many tracheostomy patients have an additional trach tube in a smaller size at hand or an “emergency decannulation kit.”


Decannulation of Tracheostomy Protocol

  • An emergency decannulation must be addressed ASAP.
  • Do not go to a doctor’s office or walk-in clinic, they will not have the appropriate tools to assist. This situation needs an emergency medical intervention!
  • And even if you do have an emergency decannulation kit to insert a smaller size tube you still need to go to the emergency room so that the proper tube can be reinserted.
  • Time is of the essence as the stoma can close very quickly!

As always, if you have any questions about your tracheostomy, immediately contact your provider and/or go to a local emergency room to have it addressed.


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