Tracheostomy for Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Surgery Overview Back to top
Tracheostomy is sometimes used to treat obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). In this surgery, the surgeon creates a permanent opening in the neck to the windpipe (trachea). He or she then puts a tube into the opening to let air in.
- A valve keeps the opening of the tube closed during the day, which allows you to speak and breathe normally.
- At night, the valve is opened so that air can go around the blockage in your throat and into your lungs while you sleep.
What To Expect After Surgery Back to top
The time needed for the opening of the tracheostomy to heal varies.
Why It Is Done Back to top
A tracheostomy is done only if you have severe sleep apnea, other treatments have failed, and other forms of surgery for the condition are not appropriate.
How Well It Works Back to top
Tracheostomy almost always cures sleep apnea that is caused by blockage of the upper airway. 1
Risks Back to top
Complications and risks that may occur with a tracheostomy include:
- Formation of scar tissue at the opening, which can affect how your neck looks.
- Difficulty speaking.
- Bleeding and infection at the site.
- Increased risk of lung infections.
- Emotional problems, such as a change in self-image and depression.
What To Think About Back to top
Tracheostomy is not typically used to treat sleep apnea, because other treatments are effective in most people.
People who are very overweight have more long-term problems after a tracheostomy than other people who have the procedure. For very overweight people, the surgeon must take greater care during the procedure to keep the opening from being blocked by fatty neck tissues.
Proper care of your tracheostomy is important. Keep the valve closed during the day so that you can talk and breathe normally. Tell your doctor right away if you notice signs of infection (redness, swelling, or drainage) at the site of your tracheostomy. If you have concerns or questions about your tracheostomy, talk with your doctor or surgeon.
References Back to top
Credits Back to top
|Primary Medical Reviewer||Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine|
|Specialist Medical Reviewer||Mark A. Rasmus, MD - Pulmonology, Critical Care Medicine, Sleep Medicine|
|Last Revised||June 17, 2011|
Last Revised: June 17, 2011
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