Discusses tracheostomy to treat obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). This surgery is done only for severe OSA. Explains that permanent opening in windpipe is created. Discusses possible complications, including lung infection, trouble talking, or scar tissue.
Tracheostomy for Obstructive Sleep Apnea
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.
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
The time needed for the opening of the tracheostomy to heal
Why It Is Done
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
Tracheostomy almost always cures sleep apnea that is caused by
blockage of the upper airway.1
Complications and risks that may occur with a tracheostomy
Formation of scar tissue at the opening, which
can affect how your neck looks.
Bleeding and infection at the site.
risk of lung infections.
Emotional problems, such as depression or a change in
What To Think About
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.
Aurora RN, et al. (2010). Practice parameters for the surgical modifications of the upper airway for obstructive sleep apnea in adults. Sleep, 33(10): 1408–1413.
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.