Tracheostomy is surgery that is sometimes used to treat obstructive
sleep apnea (OSA). In this surgery, the surgeon
creates a permanent opening in the neck to the windpipe (trachea). He or she
then puts a tube into the opening to let air in.
A valve keeps the opening of the tube closed
during the day, which allows you to speak and breathe normally.
night, you open the valve so that air can go around the blockage in your
throat and into your lungs while you sleep.
What To Expect After Surgery
The time needed for the opening in the neck to heal
Why It Is Done
A tracheostomy is done only if you have
severe sleep apnea, other treatments have failed, and
other forms of surgery won't work for you.
How Well It Works
Tracheostomy almost always cures sleep apnea that is caused by
blockage of the upper airway.footnote 1
Risks that may occur with a tracheostomy
Scar tissue forming at the opening. This can affect how your neck looks.
Having a hard time
Bleeding and infection at the site.
risk of lung infections.
Emotional problems, such as depression or a change in
What To Think About
Tracheostomy is not typically used to treat sleep apnea. That's because
other treatments work well in most people.
People who are very overweight have more long-term problems after this surgery than other people do. For very overweight
people, the surgeon must take greater care during the surgery to keep the
opening from being blocked by fatty neck tissues.
Proper care of your tracheostomy is important. Keep the valve
closed during the day so that you can talk and breathe. Tell your
doctor right away if you notice signs of infection. These signs include redness, swelling, and
drainage at the surgery site. Talk with your doctor or surgeon if you have concerns or questions.
Aurora RN, et al. (2010). Practice parameters for the surgical modifications of the upper airway for obstructive sleep apnea in adults. Sleep, 33(10): 1408–1413.
ByHealthwise Staff Primary Medical ReviewerAnne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine Specialist Medical ReviewerMark A. Rasmus, MD - Pulmonology, Critical Care Medicine, Sleep Medicine
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