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Pediatric Tracheostomy and Airway Reconstruction Surgery

A tracheostomy is a surgically created opening through the neck and into the windpipe that provides a passage for air when the typical route is obstructed.  It may be used temporarily or for long-term management of airway obstruction.

Conditions that cause Airway Obstruction

Tracheostomy is used to treat airway obstruction that can be caused by a variety of conditions, including:
Tumors in the Larynx or Trachea: an abnormal growth of tissue in larynx or trachea
Subglottic Stenosis: narrowing of airway below the vocal folds and above the trachea
Tracheomalacia: softening of tissue of the trachea
Laryngomalacia: softening of tissue of the larynx
Vocal Cord Paralysis: inability of vocal fold movement
Hemangioma: a vascular malformation in the larynx or trachea
Choanal Atresia: narrowing or blockage of nasal passage
Complete Tracheal Ring: a defect in the cartilage rings that causes narrowing of tracheal passage


Caring for Children with Tracheostomies

2 children with trachs playing with thier sibling

Special care and attention is needed for children living with tracheostomy to ensure that their daily life is as comfortable as possible. They require special equipment that must be with them at all times, including a suction machine, suction catheters, and spare tracheostomy tubes. The tubes also require daily cleaning, suctioning, and humidification to keep everything functioning properly. Some children also require oxygen to be administered through the tracheostomy tube.


Please keep in mind that children with tracheotomies are dependent on the tubes that provide a safe, stable airway. Providing proper care and maintaining patency is vitally important for your child. There are several steps and things to know while caring for a child with a tracheostomy. Mass. Eye and Ear and MGHfC have also produced a book, "A Parent's Guide to Caring for a Child with a Tracheostomy at Home," which you may find helpful. Please note: it's a large file and may take a moment to open. If you have any questions on the book, or this section of our website, please contact your physician.