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[″ + stoma, mouth]
The surgical opening of the trachea to provide and secure an open airway. This procedure may be performed in emergency situations, e.g., when there is an acute upper airway obstruction, or electively to replace a temporary airway provided by an endotracheal tube that has been in place or is anticipated to remain in place for more than 10 to 12 days.
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Descriptive text is not available for this imageTo avoid injury to the structures of the neck, tracheostomy should be performed only by skilled, well-trained health care professionals.

Vital signs are monitored frequently after surgery. Warm, humidified oxygen is administered. The patient is placed in the semi-Fowler position to promote ease of breathing. A restful environment is provided. Communication is established by questions with simple yes and no answers, hand signals, and simple sign language and with use of a slate or an alphabet board for writing. (Written communication requires vision, hand strength, and dexterity and is often difficult or impossible for acutely ill patients.) Later, the patient is taught how to cover the tracheostomy with the cuff deflated to facilitate speech, or is provided with a speaking valve and taught how to use it. Before the patient is able to speak, the nurse should be alert to the patient's unmet needs and assist to prevent increased anxiety. Chest physiotherapy promotes aeration of the lung. Suctioning of secretions with prehyperoxygenation and posthyperoxygenation and tracheostomy care are provided aseptically. Dressing is changed frequently during the first 24 hr postoperatively, and the surgical site is observed for excessive bleeding. Coughing and deep breathing are encouraged at regular intervals. A teaching plan should cover stoma care, which includes cleansing, removing crusts, and filtering air with a suitable filter. The patient and his or her health care team should watch for signs of infection, such as reddening of the skin or drainage of pus from the surgical site. Aspiration is a risk for all tracheostomized patients, but may be reduced when a speaking valve is used. The patient is assessed for signs and symptoms of aspiration, including changes in secretion production, fever, and mental status changes. The patient should not smoke and should avoid secondhand smoke. Activities may be gradually increased to include noncontact sports but should not include swimming. Showering may be permitted if the patient wears a protective plastic bib or uses a hand to cover the stoma. The patient should be reassured that secretions will decrease and that taste and smell will gradually return. If a speaking valve is used, the patient is taught to clean it daily with water and mild, fragrance-free soap, to rinse it thoroughly and allow it to air dry, and to place it in its storage container when not in use. The importance of follow-up care with an ear, nose, and throat specialist is stressed.

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TRACHEOSTOMY TUBE (A) Metal tube, (B) Cuffed plastic tube

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