A tracheostomy is an incision made in a person’s windpipe (trachea) so that a tube can be inserted to help them breathe. Tracheostomies are usually only performed when there is no other option. They can be in place for a short period of time or as a long-term solution.
An emergency tracheostomy might be required when something is blocking the windpipe (trachea) and no other technique has been able to clear it. This involves making a small cut below the voice box (larynx) and inserting a tube that is connected to oxygen or a ventilator to help you breathe. If the tracheostomy is addressing a short-term problem, it will be removed once your windpipe has been cleared. It can take a few weeks to recover and therefore it is important to ensure you have the appropriate disability support services to aid your recovery.
If there is permanent damage to your trachea due to ailments such as throat cancer, you may need a tracheostomy to assist with breathing in the long-term. This is considered a non-emergency tracheostomy. It usually affects your voice and ability to swallow, and will require a care plan compiled by your doctor and NDIS service providers where applicable.
Tracheostomies are normally done in the hospital, where doctors will make sure it is inserted properly and working well. You may need to learn to care for your tracheostomy at home so that you can be comfortable and safe.