A tracheotomy (also known as a tracheostomy) is a surgical opening in the neck going into the trachea, commonly known as the windpipe. Tracheotomies allow air to get to the lungs in a variety of situations in which the airway is compromised. Among the most common situations requiring a tracheotomy are those in which a person’s airway is blocked by secretions, a foreign body, or a tumor; there is a chest wall injury; there are congenital abnormalities that block the airway; or the person has a respiratory disorder.
Having a tracheotomy is not necessarily a permanent solution; if the patient no longer requires it, the tube is removed in a process known as decannulation.
Decannulation can take place when certain criteria are met, including when:
- The patient is alert, oriented, and able to follow directions.
- The patient is not dependent on a ventilator.
- The patient does not require excessively frequent suctioning of their secretions.
Decannulation is a process that must be undertaken with great care. It is only attempted after the patient demonstrates that they can tolerate it. In order to determine the patient’s ability to breathe on their own, the tube is usually downsized, then plugged for twelve hours, and then for twenty-four hours. All of this is done under the close supervision of medical staff to ensure the patient has no respiratory difficulty.
After decannulation, patients need to be aware of a variety of warning signs. These include breathlessness, noisy breathing, pain, and signs of infection of the tracheotomy wound.
The best place to attempt decannulation is in a facility that specializes in pulmonary care, such as Laurel Bay Health and Rehabilitation Center.
Laurel Bay Health and Rehabilitation Center, in the scenic beach town of Keansburg, NJ, specializes in pulmonary rehabilitation, including decannulation and tracheotomy rehabilitation. Headed by leading pulmonary specialist Dr. Avtar Parhar, our program is the most highly advanced pulmonary rehabilitation program in Monmouth County. At Laurel Bay, we design rehabilitation programs whose goals are to get our patients back to their optimal level of functioning and independence as quickly as possible. We provide a tailored program of physical, occupational and speech therapy, as well as all types of specialized care under one roof. We focus on restorative and preventive care for those who suffer from a variety of conditions, including chronic respiratory disease.
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