Trachea Surgery Information

Trachea is the medical term used to describe the airway that conducts the air into the lungs and which can be sometimes obstructed resulting in one’s inability to breath, cases in which trachea surgery is performed.

Here is the trachea function and anatomy. The human trachea has an inner diameter of 0.83 to 1.1 in and a length of 3.9 to 6.3 in. its main parts are the larynx and the two bifurcations called bronchi. Trachea is formed of 15 to 20 incomplete cartilaginous C shaped rings which have the function of protecting and maintaining the airway. The fact that the rings are incomplete allows the trachea to collapse slightly so food could easily pass down the esophagus. The rings are connected through the trachealis muscle that contracts when one is coughing to reduce the size of the tracheal lumen in order to increase the air flow rate. The esophagus is situated in the posterior of the trachea. When swallowing, a flap-like epiglottis has the function of closing the larynx to prevent food from entering the trachea. Trachea is covered with an elastic and fibrous trachea tissue. Trachea tissue is made up of cells that secrete mucus that bears small hair-like fringes and traps very small particles of debris.

Some of the abnormalities in the trachea function and anatomy may be causes of tracheal surgery. Trachea obstruction is one of the most common functional causes leading to surgery. Anatomic abnormalities of the trachea may be either acquired through different conditions or they may be congenital.

The surgical procedure that opens up a trachea is called tracheotomy. It may be performed in emergency situations, as part of treatment and at bedside of very ill individuals. Tracheotomies are performed when a patient is not getting enough air into the lungs, if a patient is not able to breathe without being helped or if a patient has difficulty in swallowing and thus the secretions get into the windpipe. Trachea obstruction may be due to swelling, neck, mouth or nose injury, the presence of a foreign object, a tumor or the paralysis of the throat muscles.

The emergency procedure of helping a patient breathing by opening the trachea is called cricothyroidotomy. This type of surgery consists in making an incision in a thin part of the larynx which is called cricothyroid membrane. A tube connected to an oxygen bag is inserted through this cut.

The surgical tracheotomy is performed in an operating room. It consists in making an incision into the lower part of the neck, over the trachea. The surgeon separates the neck muscles and cuts down the middle of the thyroid gland. As the surgeon has now view on the tracheal rings, he cuts into the walls and inserts a tracheotomy tube (made of plastic or metal) into the opening. The tube is connected to an oxygen or mechanical ventilator that pushes oxygen into the lungs.

Trachea surgery is a safe procedure with a mortality rate of less than 5% and a quite fast recovery of up to two weeks.