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.
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.”
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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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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