Difference Between Tracheotomy and Tracheostomy

Main Difference – Tracheotomy vs Tracheostomy

Tracheotomy and tracheostomy are two parts of the same surgical procedure which is done to facilitate breathing in a patient who is having issues related to respiration usually following trauma, foreign bodies, neurological problem, etc. The main difference between tracheotomy and tracheostomy is that tracheotomy is a surgical procedure which involves creating a direct airway incision made on the trachea whereas tracheostomy refers to an insertion of a tube through this airway.

Difference Between Tracheotomy and Tracheostomy - Comparison Summary

What is Tracheotomy

This is a surgical procedure by which a hole is made on the anterior of the neck to open up a direct airway through an incision made on the trachea.

This hole can serve as an entering site for the tubing used in tracheostomy. The major indications are similar to those of the tracheostomy which will be discussed in that section.

Key Difference - Tracheotomy vs Tracheostomy

What is Tracheostomy

This is a surgical procedure which builds up a surgical airway in the cervical trachea, where a tube can be inserted in order to facilitate breathing. This tube can be connected to a ventilator if necessary or used to suck out secretions.

This is usually performed for patients experiencing difficulty in weaning off a ventilator, following trauma or a significant neurological insult; tracheostomy is not often performed in patients with infectious or malignant causes.

Major Causes for the Use of Tracheostomy

  • Congenital defects such as laryngeal hypoplasia and vascular web
  • Foreign bodies lodged in the upper airway tract which cannot be dislodged by other maneuvers.
  • Pathologies in the Supraglottic or glottic area
  • Injury to thyroid or cricoid cartilages following neck trauma
  • Subcutaneous emphysema
  • Facial fractures resulting in upper airway tract obstruction
  • Severe sleep apnea which does not respond to continuous positive airway pressure devices or less invasive surgical interventions
  • To provide long-term mechanical ventilation for patients who have respiratory failure or in need of a pulmonary toilet associated with aspiration or difficulty in excreting secretions

Planned tracheostomies are carried out in a hospital setting under general anesthesia whereas emergency ones will be done by giving local anesthetic agents, just to eliminate pain.

This tube may be removed within days to weeks depending on the patient’s condition, but some patients with long term respiratory issues will have to depend on this on a permanent basis.

A tracheostomy is usually a safe procedure but similar to most of the other interventions, there can be risks of bleeding, infections, and respiratory difficulties.

Difference Between Tracheotomy and Tracheostomy

Difference Between Tracheotomy and Tracheostomy

Tracheotomy is a surgical process by which a hole is created on the anterior of the neck in order to build up a direct airway communication with the windpipe or trachea.

This hole can be used as a point of entry for a tube to be inserted which can either be connected to a ventilator or a sucker to facilitate breathing and suck out secretions respectively- then known as tracheostomy.

Image Courtesy:

“Head neck tracheostomy” By Illu01_head_neck.jpg: Arcadianderivative work: Tedburke (talk) – Illu01_head_neck.jpg (Public Domain) via

“Tracheostomy NIH” By National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NIH) – National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NIH) (Public Domain) via

About the Author: Embogama

Embogama is a passionate freelance writer for several years. Her areas of interest include general medicine, clinical medicine, health and fitness, Ayurveda medicine, psychology, counseling and piano music


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