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Cleveland Clinic doctor checking patient's tracheostomy tube site.

Tracheostomy Care and Removal

A tracheostomy can be lifesaving when you can’t breathe on your own. But caring for it can be challenging. We can help.

When you get a tracheostomy (tracheotomy), there’s a small opening (called a stoma) that goes through your neck to your windpipe (trachea). A small tube is inserted through this opening. It lets air directly reach your lungs — often without the need to use a breathing machine (ventilator). And whether it’s temporary or permanent, taking care of your tracheostomy is very important.

Cleveland Clinic’s tracheostomy care and removal experts set you up for success before, during and after surgery. We’ll help you and your family learn how to care for your tracheostomy and make sure you have the necessary supplies. And when it’s time to remove your trach tube, we’ll be there to make sure it’s done comfortably and safely.

Why Choose Cleveland Clinic for Tracheostomy Care and Removal?

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Collaborative care:

Our team focuses exclusively on the health of your head and neck, and we treat many people with tracheostomies. Our physicians, speech and language pathologists, respiratory therapists, and nursing teams understand your unique needs and will take excellent care of you throughout your journey with a tracheostomy.

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Patient-centered care:

Your tracheostomy requires daily care and suctioning. So, we make sure you and your family have the information and training you need to do this at home. And if you have questions along the way, we’re always there for you. Meet our team.

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Caring approach:

A tracheostomy can make it harder to swallow and speak like you usually do. Our compassionate providers work with you to help you comfortably do these things again.

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Convenient care:

We’ve developed guidelines to make sure that you can get the right trach care at any Cleveland Clinic location. Even if you’re in the hospital or the emergency department, we have dedicated tracheostomy specialists on hand to help you get the trach care you need.

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Virtual visits:

Not all appointments need to be in person. Virtual visits let you meet one-on-one with your providers using a smartphone, tablet or computer — and your internet connection. You can talk about your progress and concerns with them from the comfort of home.

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National recognition:

Cleveland Clinic is a trusted healthcare leader. We're recognized in the U.S. and throughout the world for our expertise and care.

Tracheostomy Care at Cleveland Clinic

There are many reasons why you may need a tracheostomy to help you breathe. Some include:

  • Blockage in your nose, mouth or throat.
  • Trouble swallowing.
  • Injury or swelling.
  • Lung conditions.

You may hear a tracheotomy called a tracheostomy or vice versa by your healthcare providers. Technically, a tracheotomy means the incision (cut) your provider makes in your neck to insert the trach tube. A tracheostomy is the opening (stoma) into your airway.

It’s important to take care of your tracheostomy tube so it keeps working like it should. It also helps prevent complications and infections. You’ll be able to breathe, speak and swallow better when you take good care of your tracheostomy.

Right after you have tracheostomy surgery, your care team will make sure everything works well — with the tube securely in place. And they’ll suction your tracheostomy tube to make sure it’s free of mucus and other fluids.

If you leave the hospital with a tracheostomy, we’ll make sure you and our family know how to take care of it. You’ll learn about tracheal suction guidelines. And how to clean and replace the inner tube (cannula) at least once day. We’ll also share tips for skin care around the stoma, what to do when you bathe and more.

If you’ll have a tracheostomy for a long time, your team can also help you get back to activities you enjoy. For example, special equipment can help you swim. And certain preparations can make travel possible.

If you have a tracheostomy outside of Cleveland Clinic and need help caring for it, we can help with that, too. It’s helpful to bring medical records from the event leading to the tracheostomy and the operation itself when starting care at Cleveland Clinic. Our team does hundreds of necessary tracheostomies every year and cares for many people with tracheostomies placed at outside hospitals.

Meet Our Tracheostomy Care and Removal Team

When you come to Cleveland Clinic, you’ll get a care team handpicked for your unique needs. This team may include:


Our healthcare providers see patients at convenient locations throughout Northeast Ohio, Florida and London.

Tracheostomy Removal at Cleveland Clinic

Tracheotomy removal (decannulation) happens gradually. We want to be sure you’re ready for full removal — and make sure you’re getting enough oxygen.

First, we do tests, like microlaryngoscopy and bronchoscopy, to make sure your airway’s now open and unblocked. These tests can sometimes be done in your provider’s office, but sometimes you may need a procedure.

Next, if your team believes you’re ready, we insert a smaller tube into your tracheostomy and give you a special cap to close the trach temporarily. You’ll use the cap for longer and longer periods until your provider feels you’re ready to have the tracheostomy tube removed completely.

When you’re ready, we’ll take out the tube and close the stoma. This procedure can be done while you’re awake or in the operating room, but we always make sure you’re comfortable for any procedure we do.

You may have some problems with your voice after your trach tube is removed. Our voice therapists and laryngologists can work with you to improve your voice fatigue, volume, breathiness and hoarseness.

Taking the Next Step

When you get a tracheostomy, you may wonder what life will be like. And if you’ll be able to keep up with the care. Cleveland Clinic’s team of expert providers are here to guide you and answer all of your questions about taking care of your tracheostomy. And when it’s time for us to remove your trach tube, you can rest easy knowing your providers are experienced and caring.

Getting an appointment with Cleveland Clinic’s tracheotomy care and removal experts is easy. We’re here to help you get care.


Getting an appointment with Cleveland Clinic’s tracheotomy care and removal experts is easy. We’re here to help you get care.

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