Frequently Asked Questions on Tracheostomy


What is tracheostomy?

Tracheostomy is a surgical process by which an opening is created in the neck leading directly into the breathing tube, i.e. the trachea. The tube is inserted by making a cut in the neck below the vocal cords to allow air to flow into the lungs. A tracheostomy can either be temporary or permanent.

Tracheostomy may be performed for the following reasons:

  • To bypass a blocked upper airway  
  • For longer mechanical ventilation
  • To effectively and safely provide oxygen to the lungs
  • To clean and remove airway secretions
  • Muscle paralysis that prevent swallowing
  • Neck or mouth injuries
How long does it take to get used to a tracheostomy?

The initial 1-2 days are tough for the patient who finds it difficult to breathe or speak. Gradually, the patient will learn to breathe through the tracheostomy tube. A speech therapist or the doctor can help learn to talk with the trach tube or other speaking devices. Learning to live with the trach may take a fortnight.

How often should a tracheostomy tube be cleaned?

It is important to take very good care of a tracheostomy tube. The trach tube and the skin around it need to be cleaned at least once daily or more often if needed. Change the trach ties weekly or more often if required. The inner cannula should be changed at least once every 8 hours or more frequently if indicated.