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What is a Tracheotomy?

An operation which allows air to reach the lungs without first passing through the upper airways, that is the nose, mouth, pharynx or larynx. A vertical cut is made in the front of the neck below the Adam's apple, through which a small tube, or air pipe, is passed. The operation is performed, sometimes in an emergency, if the patient's upper airways are obstructed by severe facial injuries, by a foreign body in the pharynx, by paralysis of the vocal chords, by cancer or the larynx or by a swelling of the throat. A tracheotomy may also be performed if the patient has difficulty in breathing after a head injury, a chest injury, a drug overdose or a stroke. Once he has recovered the tube is removed, the wound is closed and the patient reverts to normal breathing.
Completed tracheotomy:
1 - Vocal cords
2 - Thyroid cartilage
3 - Cricoid cartilage
4 - Tracheal cartilages
5 - Balloon cuff

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