A small opening (stoma) was made on the patients windpipe (or
trachea) (Fig. 1) to help her breathe easier.  The. tracheostomy
("trachea")  will require special care while you are at home.
Suctioning equipment, a humidifier, and other supplies will be
needed.  While the patient is in the hospital, you should use the
same suction machine (and monitor) that you will be using at home.
This helps you to become familiar with the equipment.

Tracheostomy Care Suctioning Tracheostomy, Open System

Supplies that you will need when you are outside the house are the
following: portable suction machine, sterile water, water-soluble
lubricant, trach tube with ties attached, ambu, scissors, and
emergency phone numbers. These items should be kept in a "to-go
bag" that Is ready at all times. Practice with these items while
the chiId is in the hospital.


Certain precautions are needed for the patient with a trach. Since
the air that the patient breathes no longer passes through the nose
and mouth, it is no longer warmed, moistened, and filtered before
it enters the lungs.
Humidifying/filtering devices can be bought.. To keep food and
liquids from falling into the trach, use a cloth bib with short
ties when the patient is eating.


The trach makes it harder for the patient to make her needs known.
Nursery monitors or intercoms can be used to listen for changes in
the patient's breathing. This may signal that the patient needs you.
Older patientren can use bells to call you or "talking" boards, where
they can point to different words. Some patientren are able to talk
by placing their finger over the trach for short periods of time.

Skin care

The moist secretions from the trach can irritate the skin. It is
important to keep the area around the tracheostomy clean and dry to
prevent skin irritation and infection. Wash the skin with soap and
water and dry well.  Change the trach ties each day or if they become wet or dirty. 
Do not apply any ointments or other medications on the skin 
unless you are told to do so by your health


Careful adult supervision is needed when the patient is near water.
Tub baths can be given, but be careful not to allow water into the
trach. Swimming and boating must be avoided. However, the patient
can use a wading pool with supervision.
Any smoke, aerosol sprays, powder, or dust can irritate the lining
of the patient's trachea. Therefore the patient should not be in the
same room with anyone who is smoking or where aerosol sprays such
as hair spray and antiperspirants are being used. Strong cleaning
liquids such as ammonia are also irritating. Hair from furry
animals that shed can clog the patient's trachea. Avoid stuffed
tale end toys with small parts that can be removed end put into
the) trach by a curious patient.
All of the people who provide care for the patient must be aware of
hoar to suction the trach so that they can help you. Anyone caring
for the patient alone must also know cardiopulmonary resuscitation
(CPR), Tape the emergency phone numbers to each telephone in the
house. Include (if available in your area), the local
hospital, your health professional, and any others that are needed.
Call your health professional if any of the following occur:
  • -Temperature above 100.4F
  • -Yellow or green mucus from trach or stoma
  • -Bright red blood from the trach
  • -Change in the smell of the mucus
  • -Increased amount of mucus
  • -The patient is very irritable
  • -The patient is having trouble breathing


You will need to suction the patient's trach to keep the airway clear
of mucus. Suctioning helps the patient to breathe more easily.
Suctioning should be done when the patient wakes up and before sleep.
Suction the patient when any of the following occur:
  • -She. is having trouble breathing
  • -She appears very restless
  • -She has trouble eating or sucking
  • -Her color becomes paler
  • -Her nostrils flare (spread out)
You hear the sound of air bubbling through mucus or stridor (whistling)
When the patient has a cold, more mucus is produced so you will need
to suction more often, but only when needed. Suctioning too often
can cause the body to make more mucus.


  • Ambu
  • Suction machine with tubing
  • Cardiorespiratory monitor (if ordered)
  • Suction catheters
  • Sterile saline (cool) (available in individual containers or clean
  • syringe or dropper)
  • Clean plastic container for rinsing catheter
  • Sterile gloves


1.   Gather all equipment you will need.
2.   Wash your hands with soap and water.  Count to 10 while
washing, then rinse with clear water and dry with clean
paper or cloth towel.
3.   Make sure the suction machine is plugged in and working.
Check that the suction pressure is not above 100 mm Hg
for infants or 120 mm Hg for older patientren.
4.   Put on sterile gloves.
5.   Open the suction catheter package and connect the catheter
to the suction machine using sterile technique.
6.   If the-mucus is thick, place normal saline in the trach.
Use up. to 0.5 cc for infants, 1 -2 cc for toddlers, and 2 - 3 cc. for older patientren.
7.   Before suctioning, you must measure the right distance to
insert the tube. Holding the extra trach in one hand,
place the suction catheter next to the trach tube.  Slowly
push the catheter until it is 1/4 inch longer than the
trach tube.  Hold this spot with your fingers.  Now measure
the distance from the tip of the catheter to the spot you are
holding. Write it down     This is how far you should place
the catheter each time you suction.
8.   Place the tip of the catheter in the sterile saline and
place your thumb over the opening to get suction. The
sterile water lubricates the catheter

9. With your thumb off the opening (no suction), insert the
suction catheter to a distance 1/4 inch longer than the
tube (about 2 to 3 inches in an infant and small patient)

10. Place your thumb on the suction port to obtain suction.
Rotate or twist the catheter as you remove it with a slow
steady motion (Fig  4). Both inserting the catheter and
suctioning should take no longer than 3 or 4  seconds.
Remember,  the patient cannot breathe during suctioning. As a
reminder, count 1-one thousand, 2-one thousand, and so on.
Look as the secretions. Check the color, smell, and thickness
for any change.

11. Anbu a few breaths.
12. Rinse the suction catheter in the sterile saline with your
thumb on the suction port.
13. Repeat steps 6 though 12 up to three tines.
14. Hold and comfort the" patient.
15. Praise the patient for helping.
16. After each use, discard the saline and clean the container.
clean the suction machine to have it ready for the next tine.
17. Use the following instructions, or your health professional
will discuss the care of the suction catheters.
18. Wash your hands with soap and water. Count to 10 while washing
then rinse with clear water and dry with a clean paper or
cloth towel.


The tracheostomy tube is changed routinely to allow for a thorough
cleaning of the tube. The change should be done 2 to 3 hours after
meals to avoid any chance of the patient vomiting. When you change
the tube, check the skin around the trach for any redness,
swelling, cuts, or bruises.
Change the trach tube in a' quiet place where' you will- not be
disturbed. If the patient is active, you will need someone to hold
the patient.


  • Clean trach tube with trach ties attached if needed
  • Suction machine with catheters
  • Sterile saline in clean container
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Hot soapy water

Instructions  for changing the tube

1. Gather all the equipment you will need.
2. Wash your hands with soap and water.  Count to 10 while
washing, then rinse with clear water and dry with a clean
paper or cloth towel.
3. Place the patient lying on his/her back and place a towel roll
under the shoulders.
4. If the patient is unable to help, have your helper hold the
patient's arms while the tube is being changes.
5. Suction the trach until it is clear (see instructions for
suctioning) and ambu a few breaths.
6. Untie or carefully cut the old trach tiee. Use scissors
with a rounded tip.
7. Remove the trach tube (Fig. 6).
8. Quickly check the skin.
9. Quickly dip the clean trach tube in the sterile saline or
water soluble lubricant.
10. Insert the clean tracheostomy tube (with or without on
obturator) into the opening (stoaa),
11. Remove the obturator if used.
12 Secure the tracheostomy ties, either at the side or back of
the neck.  Change the position of the knot each time the
tube or ties are changed.  Make sure that the ties ere enuq
enough to let you put only one finger under them (Fig. 7) .
13. If you are unable to put the new tube in, attempt to inaert
e smaller size tube and call 911.
14. Hold an comfort the patient.
15. Wash your hands with soap and water. Count to 20 while
washing, then rinse with clear water and dry with a clean
paper or cloth towel, The patient may cough or gag during
the insertion or removal Of the tracheostomy tube.  Gently
tell the patient when you are almost finished.  If the patient
is old enough, teach her how to help you by handing you


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