What is a Tracheostomy?
A tracheostomy is an incision that is made through the neck into the airway or windpipe (trachea). The hole is called a stoma. A tracheostomy tube is a curved tube that is placed into the stoma to keep the stoma open, making it easier to care for. It sometimes connects to a ventilator. Many people use the word trach when they talk about a trach tube.
A tracheostomy is not done often. Less than one percent of all children who are admitted to a hospital will need a tracheostomy. Most trach tubes are placed in the first year of life for long term ventilation or because of a very narrow airway. Older children may need a trach tube for upper airway obstruction or for ventilation related to muscular dystrophy. Teens most often need a tracheostomy after a traumatic event such as a car accident.
Research shows that hospitals with the most experience caring for pediatric trach patients do it best. The rate of death in children's hospitals was half that of patients who had trachs placed in non-children's facilities.
Phoenix Children's Hospital's special Trach and Airway Program is the only one in Arizona.
To download the Phoenix Children's Hospital Airway Floor Fact Sheet, click here.