A tracheostomy provides an air passage to help you breathe when the usual route for breathing is somehow blocked or reduced. A tracheostomy is often needed when health problems require long-term use of a machine (ventilator) to help you breathe. In rare cases, an emergency tracheotomy is performed when the airway is suddenly blocked, such as after a traumatic injury to the face or neck.
• Medical conditions that make it necessary to use a breathing machine (ventilator) for an extended period, usually more than one or two weeks
• Medical conditions that block or narrow your airway, such as vocal cord paralysis or throat cancer
• Paralysis, neurological problems or other conditions that make it difficult to cough up secretions from your throat and require direct suctioning of the windpipe (trachea) to clear your airway
• Preparation for major head or neck surgery to assist breathing during recovery
• Severe trauma to the head or neck that obstructs breathing
• Other emergency situations when breathing is obstructed and emergency personnel can't put a breathing tube through your mouth and into your trachea
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